CACI 5012 Introduction to Special Verdict Form

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

5012 Introduction to Special Verdict Form

I will give you [a] verdict form[s] with questions you must answer. I have already instructed you on the law that you are to use in answering these questions. You must follow my instructions and the form[s] carefully. You must consider each question separately. Although you may discuss the evidence and the issues to be decided in any order, you must answer the questions on the verdict form[s] in the order they appear. After you answer a question, the form tells you what to do next.

At least 9 of you must agree on an answer before you can move on to the next question. However, the same 9 or more people do not have to agree on each answer.

All 12 of you must deliberate on and answer each question regardless of how you voted on any earlier question. Unless the verdict form tells all 12 jurors to stop and answer no further questions, every juror must deliberate and vote on all of the remaining questions.

When you have finished filling out the form[s], your presiding juror must write the date and sign it at the bottom [of the last page] and then notify the [bailiff/clerk/court attendant] that you are ready to present your verdict in the courtroom.

New September 2003; Revised April 2004, October 2008, December 2009, December 2014, May 2019

Crowdsource Lawyers

Directions for Use

This instruction should be given if a special verdict form is used. The second and third paragraphs will have to be modified in a case under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. (See CACI No. 4012, Concluding Instruction (for LPS Act).)

Sources and Authority

General and Special Verdict Forms. Code of Civil Procedure section 624.

Special Verdicts; Requirements for Award of Punitive Damages. Code of Civil Procedure section 625.

“ ‘The verdict of a jury is either general or special. A general verdict is that by which they pronounce generally upon all or any of the issues, either in favor of the plaintiff or defendant; a special verdict is that by which the jury find the facts only, leaving the judgment to the Court. The special verdict must present the conclusions of fact as established by the evidence, and not the evidence to prove them; and those conclusions of fact must be so presented as that nothing shall remain to the Court but to draw from them conclusions of law.’ (Code Civ. Proc., § 624.)” (J.P. v. Carlsbad Unified School Dist. (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 323, 338 [181 Cal.Rptr.3d 286].)

“A special verdict is ‘fatally defective’ if it does not allow the jury to resolve every controverted issue.” (Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 110, 136 [220 Cal.Rptr.3d 127].)

“It is true that, in at least some respects, a special verdict—if carefully drawn and astutely employed—may improve the quality of the factfinding process. It can focus the jury’s attention on the relevant questions, incorporating the pertinent legal principles, and guiding the jury away from irrelevant or improper considerations. It can also expose defects in the jury’s deliberations when they occur, providing an opportunity for the court to seek correction through further deliberations.” (Ryan v. Crown Castle NG Networks, Inc. (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 775, 795 [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 743].)

“ ‘This procedure presents certain problems: “ ‘The requirement that the jury must resolve every controverted issue is one of the recognized pitfalls of special verdicts. “[T]he possibility of a defective or incomplete special verdict, or possibly no verdict at all, is much greater than with a general verdict that is tested by special findings … .” [Citation.]’ [Citation.]” ’ ‘A special verdict is “fatally defective” if it does not allow the jury to resolve every controverted issue.’ ” (J.P., supra, 232 Cal.App.4th at p. 338, internal citations omitted.)

“All litigation is ultimately a matter of striking a reasonable compromise among competing interests, particularly the interest in resolving cases fairly and that of utilizing public and private resources economically. A special verdict is unlikely to serve either of these objectives unless it is drawn with considerable care.” (Ryan, supra, 6 Cal.App.5th at p. 796.)

“[T]hat the jury instruction … defined [the element] did not obviate the necessity of including that required element in the special verdict. ‘A jury instruction alone does not constitute a finding. Nor does the fact that the evidence might support such a finding constitute a finding.’ ” (Trejo, supra, 13 Cal.App.5th at p. 138.)

“When a jury is composed of 12 persons, it is sufficient if any nine jurors arrive at each special verdict, regardless of the jurors’ votes on other special verdict questions.” (Keener v. Jeld-Wen, Inc. (2009) 46 Cal.4th 247, 255 [92 Cal.Rptr.3d 862, 206 P.3d 403], original italics.)

“Appellate courts differ concerning the use of special verdicts. In one case the court said, ‘we should utilize opportunities to force counsel into requesting special verdicts.’ In contrast, a more recent decision included the negative view: ‘Toward this end we advise that special findings be requested of juries only when there is a compelling need to do so. Absent strong reason to the contrary their use should be discouraged.’ Obviously, it is easier to tell after the fact, rather than before, whether the special verdict is helpful in disclosing the jury conclusions leading to the end result.” (All-West Design, Inc. v. Boozer (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 1212, 1221 [228 Cal.Rptr. 736], internal citations omitted.)

“[W]e begin with the requirement that at least nine of twelve jurors agree that each element of a cause of action has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements of a cause of action constitute the essential or ultimate facts in a civil case comparable to the elements of a single, discrete criminal offense in a criminal case. Analogizing a civil ‘cause of action’ to a single, discrete criminal offense, and applying the criminal law jury agreement principles to civil law, we conclude that jurors need not agree from among a number of alternative acts which act is proved, so long as the jurors agree that each element of the cause of action is proved.” (Stoner v. Williams (1996) 46 Cal.App.4th 986, 1002 [54 Cal.Rptr.2d 243, footnote omitted.)

“In civil cases in which there exist multiple causes of action for which multiple or alternative acts could support elements of more than one cause of action, possible jury confusion could result as to whether a specific cause of action is proved. In those cases, … we presume that jury instructions may be appropriate to inform the jury that it must agree on specific elements of each specific cause of action. Yet, this still does not require that the jurors agree on exactly how each particular element of a particular cause of action is proved.” (Stoner, supra, 46 Cal.App.4th at p. 1002.)

“[A] juror who dissented from a special verdict finding negligence should not be disqualified from fully participating in the jury’s further deliberations, including the determination of proximate cause. The jury is to determine all questions submitted to it, and when the jury is composed of twelve persons, each should participate as to each verdict submitted to it. To hold that a juror may be disqualified by a special verdict on negligence from participation in the next special verdict would deny the parties of ‘the right to a jury of 12 persons deliberating on all issues.’ Permitting any nine jurors to arrive at each special verdict best serves the purpose of less-than-unanimous verdicts, overcoming minor disagreements and avoiding costly mistrials. Once nine jurors have found a party negligent, dissenting jurors can accept the finding and participate in determining proximate cause just as they may participate in apportioning liability, and we may not assume that the dissenting jurors will violate their oaths to deliberate honestly and conscientiously on the proximate cause issue.” (Resch v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. (1984) 36 Cal.3d 676, 682 [205 Cal.Rptr. 827, 685 P.2d 1178], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, §§ 342–346
4 California Trial Guide, Unit 91, Jury Deliberations and Rendition of Verdict, § 91.21 (Matthew Bender)
27 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 318, Judgments, § 318.49 (Matthew Bender)
28 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 326A, Jury Verdicts, § 326A.11 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure, Ch. 18, Jury Verdicts, 18.11 et seq.
California Judges Benchbook: Civil Proceedings—Trial § 14.14 (Cal CJER 2019)