CACI 5022 Introduction to General Verdict Form

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

5022 Introduction to General Verdict Form

I will give you [a] general verdict form[s]. The form[s] ask[s] you to find either in favor of [name of plaintiff] or [name of defendant]. [It also asks you to answer [an] additional question[s] regarding [specify, e.g., the right to punitive damages].] I have already instructed you on the law that you are to refer to in making your determination[s].

At least nine of you must agree on your decision [and in answering the additional question[s]]. [If there is more than one question on the verdict form, as long as nine of you agree on your answers to each question, the same nine do not have to agree on each answer.]

In reaching your verdict [and answering the additional question[s]], you must decide whether the party with the burden of proof has proved all of the necessary facts in support of each required element of [his/her/nonbinary pronoun/its] claim or defense. You should review the elements addressed in the other instructions that I have given you and determine if at least nine of you agree that each element has been proven by the evidence received in the trial. The same nine do not have to agree on each element.

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

Directions for Use

If a general verdict will be used, this instruction may be given to guide the jury on how to go about reaching a verdict. With a general verdict, there is a danger that the jury will shortcut the deliberative process of carefully looking at each element of each claim or defense and simply vote for the plaintiff or for the defendant. This instruction directs the jury to approach its task as if a special verdict were being used and questions on each element of each claim or defense had to be answered. This instruction assumes that the rule applicable to special verdicts, that the same nine jurors do not need to agree on every element of a claim as long as there are nine in favor of each (see Juarez v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 759, 768–769 [183 Cal.Rptr. 852, 647 P.2d 128]; CACI No. 5012, Introduction to Special Verdict Form), would apply to deliberations using a general verdict.

This purpose of this instruction is to lessen the possibility that the “paradox of shifting majorities” will happen. This paradox occurs when the same jury analyzing the same evidence would find liability with a special verdict, but not with a general verdict. The possibility arises because with a special verdict, a juror who votes no on one question but is in a minority of three or fewer must continue to deliberate and vote on all of the remaining questions.

If, for example, the vote on element 3 is 9-3 yes with jurors 10-12 voting no, and the vote on element 4 is 11-1 yes with juror 1 voting no, there will be liability with a special verdict because each element has received nine yes votes. But if a general verdict is used, there would be no liability because only eight jurors have found true every element of the claim. The California Supreme Court has found this result to be proper with regard to special verdicts. (See Juarezsupra, 31 Cal.3d at p. 768.) With a general verdict, if the jury votes on each element of each claim or defense, it is more likely to find nine votes for each element, even though it may be a different nine each time.

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

“[I]f nine identical jurors agree that a party is negligent and that such negligence is the proximate cause of the other party’s injuries, special verdicts apportioning damages are valid so long as they command the votes of any nine jurors. To hold otherwise would be to prohibit jurors who dissent on the question of a party’s liability from participation in the important remaining issue of allocating responsibility among the parties, a result that would deny all parties the right to a jury of 12 persons deliberating on all issues.” (Juarezsupra, 31 Cal.3d at p. 768, original italics.)

“To determine whether a general verdict is supported by the evidence it is necessary to ascertain the issues embraced within the verdict and measure the sufficiency of the evidence as related to those issues. For this purpose reference may be had to the pleadings, the pretrial order and the charge to the jury. A general verdict implies a finding of every fact essential to its validity which is supported by the evidence. Where several issues responsive to different theories of law are presented to the jury and the evidence is sufficient to support facts sustaining the verdict under one of those theories, it will be upheld even though the evidence is insufficient to support facts sustaining it under any other theory.” (Owens v. Pyeatt (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 840, 844 [57 Cal.Rptr. 100], internal citations omitted.)

“Implicit in [general] verdicts is the presumption that ‘all material facts in issue as to which substantial evidence was received were determined in a manner consistent and in conformance with the verdict.’ ” (Coorough v. De Lay (1959) 171 Cal.App.2d 41, 45 [339 P.2d 963].)

“A general verdict imports a finding in favor of the winning party on all the averments of his pleading material to his recovery.” (Behr v. County of Santa Cruz (1959) 172 Cal.App.2d 697, 712 [342 P.2d 987].)

Secondary Sources

7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, § 338
Wegner et al., California Practice Guide: Civil Trials & Evidence, Ch. 17-A, Verdicts, ¶  17:1 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
Haning et al., California Practice Guide: Personal Injury Ch. 9-M, Verdicts and Judgment, ¶  9:645 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
4 California Trial Guide, Unit 91, Jury Deliberations and Rendition of Verdict, § 91.21 (Matthew Bender)
28 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 326A, Jury Verdicts, § 326A.11 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure, Ch. 18, Jury Verdicts, 18.03 et seq.