(a) Punitive damages may not be awarded in any civil action, except civil actions for wrongful death pursuant to Sections 6-5-391 and 6-5-410, other than in a tort action where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice with regard to the plaintiff. Nothing contained in this article is to be construed as creating any claim for punitive damages which is not now present under the law of the State of Alabama.
(b) As used in this article, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) FRAUD. An intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact the concealing party had a duty to disclose, which was gross, oppressive, or malicious and committed with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person or entity of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.
(2) MALICE. The intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause or excuse, either:
a. With an intent to injure the person or property of another person or entity, or
b. Under such circumstances that the law will imply an evil intent.
(3) WANTONNESS. Conduct which is carried on with a reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.
(4) CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE. Evidence that, when weighed against evidence in opposition, will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm conviction as to each essential element of the claim and a high probability as to the correctness of the conclusion. Proof by clear and convincing evidence requires a level of proof greater than a preponderance of the evidence or the substantial weight of the evidence, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.
(5) OPPRESSION. Subjecting a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person's rights.