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THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIM BAR ASSOCIATION CIVIL JUSTICE DATABASE

Pluid v. B.K.
948 P.2d 981, Alaska, AK, 11/28/1997
Category Victim v. Perpetrator 
Topic Special Victims 
Filename Child Victims 
Crime Child Sexual Assault 
Location Residence 
Prevailing Party Plaintiff 
Other Parties N/A 
Holding

Statement of Facts: The plaintiff, B.K., then twelve years old, lived with her mother and two brothers in the home of the defendant, Frank Pluid, during January and February of 1989. The defendant was the boyfriend of the plaintiff's mother. B.K. alleged that the defendant sexually assaulted her several times. After a bench trial, the defendant was found liable and the trial judge awarded the plaintiff both compensatory and punitive damages. Based on expert testimony, the trial judge concluded that B.K. would need approximately one and a half years of counseling and an average of one visit per year thereafter. The court determined that this would amount to 100 counseling sessions at a cost of $120 per session. Therefore, the trial judge awarded B.K. $12,000 for these future medical expenses. The court also awarded B.K. $25,000 for past and future pain and suffering. The trial judge found further that the defendant's conduct was "outrageous" and awarded punitive damages in the amount of five times the $185, 000 compensatory damages. The defendant appealed. Holding: The Supreme Court of Alaska upheld the compensatory and punitive damage awards ordered by the trial court. The Court held that sufficient evidence was presented at trial to justify the trial court's calculation of B.K.'s future medical expenses. Regarding the award of punitive damages, the Court focused on the nature and magnitude of the defendant's offenses and held that the trial judge's punitive damages award was not excessive. The Court rejected the defendant's contention that the record established an impermissible motive on the part of the trial judge. The defendant's final argument on appeal was that the punitive damages award was excessive as a matter of law because B.K. did not put on evidence of the defendant's net worth. Although many jurisdictions require evidence regarding the defendant's assets or net worth, the Court adopted the Oregon approach which places the responsibility for presenting net worth evidence on the defendant himself. The Court reasoned that the defendant was uniquely situated to put on evidence of his own net worth and concluded that a defendant who does not put on evidence of his own net worth cannot later complain of its absence. 


Damage Award $222,000 
Victim's Counsel     
Plaintiff's Counsel Steven Smith, Anchorage 
Plaintiff's Expert      
Defense Counsel D. Scott Dattan, Anchorage 
Defense Expert

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