Court Refuses to Dismiss Claim for Punitive Damages Related to the Disappearance of Artwork

On November 18, 2022, Justice Cohen of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in Bagirova v. Nomo Soho Hotel, 2022 NY Slip Op. 33974(U), refusing to dismiss a claim for punitive damages related to the disappearance of artwork, explaining:

The remaining question is whether Plaintiff’s demand for punitive damages should be stricken. Dismissal of a demand for punitive damages is appropriate when the challenged pleading does not allege that actions were aimed at the public or showed the requisite moral turpitude. Here, Plaintiff alleges that the Sculptures were exhibited to the public by Defendants and that the Sculptures – which based on Instagram post attached to the Amended Complaint are large and not easily lost – were not returned because Defendants wanted to wrongfully capitalize on their value, which if true evinces a high degree of moral turpitude. At this early stage, with no explanation as to how this prominent and valuable property was lost while under Defendants’ control, the demand for punitive damages cannot summarily be dismissed. This issue can, of course, be revisited on summary judgment
(and, if necessary, at trial) based on an evidentiary record.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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