CACI 217 Evidence of Settlement

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

217 Evidence of Settlement

You have heard evidence that there was a settlement between [insert names of settling parties]. You must not consider this settlement to determine responsibility for any harm. You may consider this evidence only to decide whether [insert name of witness who settled] is biased or prejudiced and whether [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] testimony is believable.

Directions for Use

Evidence of prior settlement is not automatically admissible: “Even if it appears that a witness could have been influenced in his testimony by the payment of money or the obtaining of a dismissal, the party resisting the admission of such evidence may still appeal to the court’s discretion to exclude it under section 352 of the code.” (Granville v. Parsons (1968) 259 Cal.App.2d 298, 305 [66 Cal.Rptr. 149].)

Sources and Authority

Evidence of Settlement. Evidence Code section 1152(a).

“While evidence of a settlement agreement is inadmissible to prove liability, it is admissible to show bias or prejudice of an adverse party. Relevant evidence includes evidence relevant to the credibility of a witness.” (Moreno v. Sayre (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 116, 126 [208 Cal.Rptr. 444], internal citations omitted.)

“[E]vidence of a plaintiff’s settlement with one or more defendants is admissible at trial to prove witness bias and to prevent collusion.” (Diamond v. Reshko (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 828, 843 [191 Cal.Rptr.3d 438].)

“[A] term in a settlement agreement requiring the settling defendant to stay in the case during trial is not per se improper, but the settling defendant’s position should be revealed to the court and jury to avoid committing a fraud on the court, and to permit the trier of fact to properly weigh the settling defendant’s testimony.” (Diamond, supra, 239 Cal.App.4th at p. 844.)

“[T]he good faith settlement determination did not limit the trial court’s authority to admit evidence of that settlement at trial. To the contrary, … the decision whether to admit evidence of the settlement was for the trial court to make.” (Diamondsupra, 239 Cal.App.4th at p. 846.)

“The bias inherent in a settling defendant’s realignment with the plaintiff’s interest may or may not affect the conduct of the plaintiff or settling defendant at trial, but that is a question for the jury to decide.” (Diamond, supra, 239 Cal.App.4th at p. 848.)

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin, California Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Circumstantial Evidence, §§ 145–153
Jefferson, California Evidence Benchbook (3d ed. 1997) §§ 34.15–34.24
3 California Trial Guide, Unit 50, Extrinsic Policies Affecting or Excluding Evidence, § 50.20 (Matthew Bender)
48 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 551, Trial, § 551.68 (Matthew Bender)