Zorilla v. Aypco Constr. II, LLC (Opinion)Annotate this Case
At issue in this residential construction dispute was whether the statutory cap on exemplary damages is waived if not pleaded as an affirmative defense or avoidance. The trial court affirmed an exemplary damages award in excess of the statutory cap because Petitioner did not assert the cap until her motion for a new trial. The court of appeals affirmed the exemplary damages award, concluding that the statutory cap on exemplary damages did not apply because Petitioner failed to expressly plead the cap as an affirmative defense. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the court of appeals’ judgment in relation to the exemplary cap, holding (i) the exemplary damages cap is not a matter ”constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense” and need not be affirmatively pleaded because it applies automatically when invoked and does not require proof of additional facts, and (ii) because Petitioner timely asserted the cap in her motion for new trial, the exemplary damages must be capped at $200,000; and (2) affirmed in all other respects.