California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1905. Definition of Important Fact/Promise

A [fact/promise] is important if it would influence a reasonable person’s judgment or conduct. A [fact/promise] is also important if the person who [represents/makes] it knows that the person to whom the [representation/promise] is made is likely to be influenced by it even if a reasonable person would not.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • “According to the Restatement of Torts, ‘[r]eliance upon a fraudulent misrepresentation is not justifiable unless the matter misrepresented is material… The matter is material if . . . a reasonable [person] would attach importance to its existence or nonexistence in determining his choice of action in the transaction in question …’ But materiality is a jury question, and a ‘court may [only] withdraw the case from the jury if the fact misrepresented is so obviously unimportant that the jury could not reasonably find that a reasonable man would have been influenced by it.’ ” (Charpentier v. Los Angeles Rams (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 301, 312—313 [89 Cal.Rptr.2d 115], internal citations omitted.)
  • “Viewed in terms of materiality, ‘[a] false representation which cannot possibly affect the intrinsic merits of a business transaction must necessarily be immaterial because reliance upon it could not produce injury in a legal sense.’ ” (Service by Medallion, Inc. v. Clorox Co. (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 1807, 1818 [52 Cal.Rptr.2d 650], internal citation omitted.)
  • “A misrepresentation of fact is material if it induced the plaintiff to alter his position to his detriment. Stated in terms of reliance, materiality means that without the misrepresentation, the plaintiff would not have acted as he did. ‘It must be shown that the plaintiff actually relied upon the misrepresentation; i.e., that the representation was “an immediate cause of his conduct which alters his legal relations,” and that without such representation, “he would not, in all reasonable probability, have entered into the contract or other transaction.” ’ ” (Okun v. Morton (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 805, 828 [250 Cal.Rptr. 220], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 40, Fraud and Deceit and Other Business Torts, § 40.03[4] (Matthew Bender)

23 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 269, Fraud and Deceit (Matthew Bender)

10 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 105, Fraud and Deceit (Matthew Bender)

2 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 22:29