Under CA law the landlord has to return the security deposit within 21 days of the tenant moving out. If she fails to comply, you can sue her. However, to prevail on a claim of punitive damages, you have to prove that she acted in bad faith. If you want a legal opinion of whether or not the facts in your case constitute bad faith or not, I suggest you contact a local landlord-tenant attorney.
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You have to show your landlord's malice in withholding the deposit. This is easier to do under CCP section 1174 than in a typical tort case. (Civil Code 3294) The statutory damages are up to $600. So, you could go for it in small claims if you haven't dismissed the the action yet. It will really depend on the judge whether you get those damages and your costs or not. An attorney can never tell you the outcome - The judge could award you all of it or throw out your claim.
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