CACI 334 Affirmative Defense—Undue Influence

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

334 Affirmative Defense—Undue Influence

[Name of defendant] claims that no contract was created because [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] was unfairly pressured by [name of plaintiff] into consenting to the contract.

To succeed, [name of defendant] must prove both of the following:

1.That [name of plaintiff] used

[a relationship of trust and confidence] [or]

[[name of defendant]’s weakness of mind] [or]

[[name of defendant]’s needs or distress]

to induce or pressure [name of defendant] into consenting to the contract; and

2.That [name of defendant] would not otherwise have consented to the contract.

If you decide that [name of defendant] has proved both of the above, then no contract was created.

Sources and Authority

When Consent Not Freely Given. Civil Code sections 1567, 1568.

Undue Influence. Civil Code section 1575.

The question of undue influence is decided as a question of fact: “[D]irect evidence of undue influence is rarely obtainable and, thus the court is normally relegated to determination by inference from the totality of facts and circumstances. Indeed, there are no fixed definitions or inflexible formulas. Rather, we are concerned with whether from the entire context it appears that one’s will was overborne and he was induced to do or forbear to do an act which he would not do, or would do, if left to act freely.” (Keithley v. Civil Service Bd. of the City of Oakland (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 443, 451 [89 Cal.Rptr. 809], internal citations omitted.)

“In essence, undue influence consists of the use of excessive pressure by a dominant person over a servient person resulting in the apparent will of the servient person being in fact the will of the dominant person. The undue susceptibility to such overpersuasive influence may be the product of physical or emotional exhaustion or anguish which results in one’s inability to act with unencumbered volition.” (Keithley, supra, 11 Cal.App.3d at p. 451.)

Whether or not the parties have a confidential relationship is a question of fact: “It is, of course, well settled that while the mere fact that a relationship is friendly and intimate does not necessarily amount to a confidential relationship, such relationship may be said to exist whenever trust and confidence is reposed by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another. It is likewise frequently emphasized that the existence of a confidential relationship presents a question of fact which, of necessity, may be determined only on a case by case basis.” (O’Neil v. Spillane (1975) 45 Cal.App.3d 147, 153 [119 Cal.Rptr. 245], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Contracts, §§ 317–322
17 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 215, Duress, Menace, Fraud, Undue Influence, and Mistake, §§ 215.40–215.42, 215.130–215.132 (Matthew Bender)
9 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 92, Duress, Menace, Fraud, Undue Influence, and Mistake, § 92.70 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
27 California Legal Forms, Ch. 77, Discharge of Obligations, § 77.352 (Matthew Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 8, Seeking or Opposing Equitable Remedies in Contract Actions, 8.07
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 17, Attacking or Defending Existence of Contract—Fraud, Duress, Menace, and Undue Influence, 17.03–17.06, 17.25–17.28