(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, if an employee or former employee of a public entity requests the public entity to defend him or her against any claim or action against him or her for an injury arising out of an act or omission occurring within the scope of his or her employment as an employee of the public entity and the request is made in writing not less than 10 days before the day of trial, and the employee or former employee reasonably cooperates in good faith in the defense of the claim or action, the public entity shall pay any judgment based thereon or any compromise or settlement of the claim or action to which the public entity has agreed.
If the public entity conducts the defense of an employee or former employee against any claim or action with his or her reasonable good-faith cooperation, the public entity shall pay any judgment based thereon or any compromise or settlement of the claim or action to which the public entity has agreed. However, where the public entity conducted the defense pursuant to an agreement with the employee or former employee reserving the rights of the public entity not to pay the judgment, compromise, or settlement until it is established that the injury arose out of an act or omission occurring within the scope of his or her employment as an employee of the public entity, the public entity is required to pay the judgment, compromise, or settlement only if it is established that the injury arose out of an act or omission occurring in the scope of his or her employment as an employee of the public entity.
Nothing in this section authorizes a public entity to pay that part of a claim or judgment that is for punitive or exemplary damages.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) or any other provision of law, a public entity is authorized to pay that part of a judgment that is for punitive or exemplary damages if the governing body of that public entity, acting in its sole discretion except in cases involving an entity of the state government, finds all of the following:
(1) The judgment is based on an act or omission of an employee or former employee acting within the course and scope of his or her employment as an employee of the public entity.
(2) At the time of the act giving rise to the liability, the employee or former employee acted, or failed to act, in good faith, without actual malice and in the apparent best interests of the public entity.
(3) Payment of the claim or judgment would be in the best interests of the public entity.
As used in this subdivision with respect to an entity of state government, “a decision of the governing body” means the approval of the Legislature for payment of that part of a judgment that is for punitive damages or exemplary damages, upon recommendation of the appointing power of the employee or former employee, based upon the finding by the Legislature and the appointing authority of the existence of the three conditions for payment of a punitive or exemplary damages claim. The provisions of subdivision (a) of Section 965.6 shall apply to the payment of any claim pursuant to this subdivision.
The discovery of the assets of a public entity and the introduction of evidence of the assets of a public entity shall not be permitted in an action in which it is alleged that a public employee is liable for punitive or exemplary damages.
The possibility that a public entity may pay that part of a judgment that is for punitive damages shall not be disclosed in any trial in which it is alleged that a public employee is liable for punitive or exemplary damages, and that disclosure shall be grounds for a mistrial.
(c) Except as provided in subdivision (d), if the provisions of this section are in conflict with the provisions of a memorandum of understanding reached pursuant to Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 3500) of Division 4 of Title 1, the memorandum of understanding shall be controlling without further legislative action, except that if those provisions of a memorandum of understanding require the expenditure of funds, the provisions shall not become effective unless approved by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act.
(d) The subject of payment of punitive damages pursuant to this section or any other provision of law shall not be a subject of meet and confer under the provisions of Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 3500) of Division 4 of Title 1, or pursuant to any other law or authority.
(e) Nothing in this section shall affect the provisions of Section 818 prohibiting the award of punitive damages against a public entity. This section shall not be construed as a waiver of a public entity’s immunity from liability for punitive damages under Section 1981, 1983, or 1985 of Title 42 of the United States Code.
(f) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a public entity shall not pay a judgment, compromise, or settlement arising from a claim or action against an elected official, if the claim or action is based on conduct by the elected official by way of tortiously intervening or attempting to intervene in, or by way of tortiously influencing or attempting to influence the outcome of, any judicial action or proceeding for the benefit of a particular party by contacting the trial judge or any commissioner, court-appointed arbitrator, court-appointed mediator, or court-appointed special referee assigned to the matter, or the court clerk, bailiff, or marshal after an action has been filed, unless he or she was counsel of record acting lawfully within the scope of his or her employment on behalf of that party. Notwithstanding Section 825.6, if a public entity conducted the defense of an elected official against such a claim or action and the elected official is found liable by the trier of fact, the court shall order the elected official to pay to the public entity the cost of that defense.
(2) If an elected official is held liable for monetary damages in the action, the plaintiff shall first seek recovery of the judgment against the assets of the elected official. If the elected official’s assets are insufficient to satisfy the total judgment, as determined by the court, the public entity may pay the deficiency if the public entity is authorized by law to pay that judgment.
(3) To the extent the public entity pays any portion of the judgment or is entitled to reimbursement of defense costs pursuant to paragraph (1), the public entity shall pursue all available creditor’s remedies against the elected official, including garnishment, until that party has fully reimbursed the public entity.
(4) This subdivision shall not apply to any criminal or civil enforcement action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by an elected district attorney, city attorney, or attorney general.
(Amended by Stats. 1995, Ch. 799, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1996.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018