CACI No. 300. Breach of Contract - Introduction

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2020 edition)

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300.Breach of Contract - Introduction
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun/it] and [name of
defendant] entered into a contract for [insert brief summary of alleged
contract].
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] breached this contract
by [briefly state the alleged breach].
[Name of plaintiff] also claims that [name of defendant]’s breach of this
contract caused harm to [name of plaintiff] for which [name of defendant]
should pay.
[Name of defendant] denies [insert denial of any of the above claims]. [Name
of defendant] also claims [insert affırmative defense].
New September 2003; Revised December 2007
Directions for Use
This instruction is designed to introduce the jury to the issues involved in the case.
It should be read before the instructions on the substantive law.
Sources and Authority
• The Supreme Court has observed that “[c]ontract and tort are different branches
of law. Contract law exists to enforce legally binding agreements between
parties; tort law is designed to vindicate social policy.” (Applied Equipment
Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia, Ltd. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 503, 514 [28 Cal.Rptr.2d
475, 869 P.2d 454].)
• “The differences between contract and tort give rise to distinctions in assessing
damages and in evaluating underlying motives for particular courses of conduct.
Contract damages seek to approximate the agreed-upon performance . . . and
are generally limited to those within the contemplation of the parties when the
contract was entered into or at least reasonably foreseeable by them at that time;
consequential damages beyond the expectations of the parties are not
recoverable.” (Applied Equipment Corp., supra, 7 Cal.4th at p. 515, internal
citations omitted.)
• Certain defenses are decided as questions of law, not as questions of fact. These
defenses include frustration of purpose, impossibility, and impracticability.
(Oosten v. Hay Haulers Dairy Employees and Helpers Union (1955) 45 Cal.2d
784, 788 [291 P.2d 17]; Mitchell v. Ceazan Tires, Ltd. (1944) 25 Cal.2d 45, 48
[153 P.2d 53]; Autry v. Republic Productions, Inc. (1947) 30 Cal.2d 144, 157
[180 P.2d 888]; Glen Falls Indemnity Co. v. Perscallo (1950) 96 Cal.App.2d
799, 802 [216 P.2d 567].)
• “Defendant contends that frustration is a question of fact resolved in its favor by
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the trial court. The excuse of frustration, however, like that of impossibility, is a
conclusion of law drawn by the court from the facts of a given case . . . .”
(Mitchell, supra, 25 Cal.2d at p. 48, italics added.)
• Estoppel is a “nonjury fact question to be determined by the trial court in
accordance with applicable law.” (DRG/Beverly Hills, Ltd. v. Chopstix Dim Sum
Cafe and Takeout III, Ltd. (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 54, 61 [35 Cal.Rptr.2d 515].)
• “A settlement agreement is a contract, and the legal principles which apply to
contracts generally apply to settlement contracts.” (Monster Energy Co. v.
Schechter (2019) 7 Cal.5th 781, 789 [249 Cal.Rptr.3d 295, 444 P.3d 97].)
Secondary Sources
1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Contracts, §§ 872-892
13 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 140, Contracts, § 140.50
(Matthew Bender)
5 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 50, Contracts, § 50.10 et seq. (Matthew
Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 13, Attacking
or Defending Existence of Contract - Absence of Essential Element, 13.03-13.17
CACI No. 300 CONTRACTS
82
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