CACI 360 Nominal Damages
California Civil Jury Instructions CACI
360 Nominal Damages
If you decide that [name of defendant] breached the contract but also that [name of plaintiff] was not harmed by the breach, you may still award [him/her/nonbinary pronoun/it] nominal damages such as one dollar.
Sources and Authority
•Nominal Damages. Civil Code section 3360.
•“A plaintiff is entitled to recover nominal damages for the breach of a contract, despite inability to show that actual damage was inflicted upon him, since the defendant’s failure to perform a contractual duty is, in itself, a legal wrong that is fully distinct from the actual damages. The maxim that the law will not be concerned with trifles does not, ordinarily, apply to violation of a contractual right. Accordingly, nominal damages, which are presumed as a matter of law to stem merely from the breach of a contract may properly be awarded for the violation of such a right. And, by statute, such is also the rule in California.” (Sweet v. Johnson (1959) 169 Cal.App.2d 630, 632–633 [337 P.2d 499], internal citations omitted.)
•“With one exception … an unbroken line of cases holds that nominal damages are limited to an amount of a few cents or a dollar.” (Avina v. Spurlock (1972) 28 Cal.App.3d 1086, 1089 [105 Cal.Rptr. 198], internal citations omitted.)