CACI 1908 Reasonable Reliance

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

1908 Reasonable Reliance

In determining whether [name of plaintiff]’s reliance on the [misrepresentation/concealment/false promise] was reasonable, [he/she/nonbinary pronoun/it] must first prove that the matter was material. A matter is material if a reasonable person would find it important in deciding what to do.

If you decide that the matter is material, you must then decide whether it was reasonable for [name of plaintiff] to rely on the [misrepresentation/concealment/false promise]. In making this decision, take into consideration [name of plaintiff]’s intelligence, knowledge, education, and experience.

However, it is not reasonable for anyone to rely on a [misrepresentation/concealment/false promise] that is preposterous. It also is not reasonable for anyone to rely on a [misrepresentation/concealment/false promise] if facts that are within [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] observation show that it is obviously false.

Directions for Use

There would appear to be three considerations in determining reasonable reliance. First, the representation or promise must be material, as judged by a reasonable-person standard. (Charpentier v. Los Angeles Rams (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 301, 312–313 [89 Cal.Rptr.2d 115].) Second, if the matter is material, reasonableness must take into account the plaintiff’s own knowledge, education, and experience; the objective reasonable person is irrelevant at this step. Third, some matters are simply too preposterous to be believed by anyone, notwithstanding limited knowledge, education, and experience. (Blankenheim v. E. F. Hutton, Co., Inc. (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 1463, 1474 [266 Cal.Rptr. 593].)

See also CACI No. 1907, Reliance.

Sources and Authority

“After establishing actual reliance, the plaintiff must show that the reliance was reasonable by showing that (1) the matter was material in the sense that a reasonable person would find it important in determining how he or she would act, and (2) it was reasonable for the plaintiff to have relied on the misrepresentation.” (Hoffman v. 162 North Wolfe LLC (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1178, 1194 [175 Cal.Rptr.3d 820], internal citations omitted.)

“According to the Restatement of Torts, ‘[r]eliance upon a fraudulent misrepresentation is not justifiable unless the matter misrepresented is material. … The matter is material if … a reasonable [person] would attach importance to its existence or nonexistence in determining his choice of action in the transaction in question … .’ But materiality is a jury question, and a ‘court may [only] withdraw the case from the jury if the fact misrepresented is so obviously unimportant that the jury could not reasonably find that a reasonable man would have been influenced by it.’ ” (Charpentier, supra, 75 Cal.App.4th at pp. 312–313, internal citations omitted.)

“[T]he issue is whether the person who claims reliance was justified in believing the representation in the light of his own knowledge and experience.” (Gray v. Don Miller & Associates, Inc. (1984) 35 Cal.3d 498, 503 [198 Cal.Rptr. 551, 674 P.2d 253], internal citations omitted.)

“[N]or is a plaintiff held to the standard of precaution or of minimum knowledge of a hypothetical, reasonable man. Exceptionally gullible or ignorant people have been permitted to recover from defendants who took advantage of them in circumstances where persons of normal intelligence would not have been misled. ‘No rogue should enjoy his ill-gotten plunder for the simple reason that his victim is by chance a fool.’ ” (Blankenheim, supra, 217 Cal.App.3d at p. 1474, internal citations omitted.)

“[G]enerally speaking, ‘ “[a] plaintiff will be denied recovery only if his conduct is manifestly unreasonable in the light of his own intelligence or information. It must appear that he put faith in representations that were ‘preposterous’ or ‘shown by facts within his observation to be so patently and obviously false that he must have closed his eyes to avoid discovery of the truth.’ [Citation.] Even in case of a mere negligent misrepresentation, a plaintiff is not barred unless his conduct, in the light of his own information and intelligence, is preposterous and irrational. … The effectiveness of disclaimers is assessed in light of these principles. [Citation.]” ’ ” (Public Employees’ Retirement System v. Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 643, 673 [172 Cal.Rptr.3d 238].)

“[I]f the conduct of the plaintiff in the light of his own intelligence and information was manifestly unreasonable, however, he will be denied a recovery.” (Thrifty Payless, Inc. v. The Americana at Brand, LLC (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 1230, 1239 [160 Cal.Rptr.3d 718].)

“Except in the rare case where the undisputed facts leave no room for a reasonable difference of opinion, the question of whether a plaintiff’s reliance is reasonable is a question of fact.” (Beckwith v. Dahl (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1067 [141 Cal.Rptr.3d 142].)

“ ‘What would constitute fraud in a given instance might not be fraudulent when exercised toward another person. The test of the representation is its actual effect on the particular mind … .’ ” (Blankenheim, supra, 217 Cal.App.3d at p. 1475, internal citation omitted.)

“[Plaintiff]’s deposition testimony on which appellants rely also reveals that she is a practicing attorney and uses releases in her practice. In essence, she is asking this court to rule that a practicing attorney can rely on the advice of an equestrian instructor as to the validity of a written release of liability that she executed without reading. In determining whether one can reasonably or justifiably rely on an alleged misrepresentation, the knowledge, education and experience of the person claiming reliance must be considered. Under these circumstances, we conclude as a matter of law that any such reliance was not reasonable.” (Guido v. Koopman (1991) 1 Cal.App.4th 837, 843–844 [2 Cal.Rptr.2d 437], internal citations omitted.)

“[I]t is inherently unreasonable for any person to rely on a prediction of future IRS enactment, enforcement, or non-enforcement of the law by someone unaffiliated with the federal government. As such, the reasonable reliance element of any fraud claim based on these predictions fails as a matter of law.” (Brakke v. Economic Concepts, Inc. (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 761, 769 [153 Cal.Rptr.3d 1].)

“[A] presumption, or at least an inference, of reliance arises wherever there is a showing that a misrepresentation was material. A misrepresentation is judged to be ‘material’ if ‘a reasonable man would attach importance to its existence or nonexistence in determining his choice of action in the transaction in question’ and as such, materiality is generally a question of fact unless the ‘fact misrepresented is so obviously unimportant that the jury could not reasonably find that a reasonable man would have been influenced by it.’ ” (Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951, 977 [64 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 938 P.2d 903], internal citations omitted.)

“[I]t is well established that the kind of disclaimers and exculpatory documents—such as the ‘estoppel’ attached to the lease and signed by [plaintiff] that disavowed any representations made by landlord or its agents to him—do not operate to insulate defrauding parties from liability or preclude [plaintiff] from demonstrating justifiable reliance on misrepresentations.” (Orozco v. WPV San Jose, LLC (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 375, 393 [248 Cal.Rptr.3d 623].)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 933–937
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 40, Fraud and Deceit and Other Business Torts, § 40.06 (Matthew Bender)
23 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 269, Fraud and Deceit, § 269.19 (Matthew Bender)
10 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 105, Fraud and Deceit, § 105.229 (Matthew Bender)
2 California Civil Practice: Torts, § 22:32 (Thomson Reuters)