CACI No. 334. Affirmative Defense - Undue Influence

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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334.Affirmative Defense - Undue Influence
[Name of defendant] claims that no contract was created because [he/she/
nonbinary pronoun] was unfairly pressured by [name of plaintiff] into
consenting to the contract.
To succeed, [name of defendant] must prove both of the following:
1. That [name of plaintiff] used
1. [a relationship of trust and confidence] [or]
1. [[name of defendant]’s weakness of mind] [or]
1. [[name of defendant]’s needs or distress]
1. to induce or pressure [name of defendant] into consenting to the
contract; and
2. That [name of defendant] would not otherwise have consented to
the contract.
If you decide that [name of defendant] has proved both of the above, then
no contract was created.
New September 2003
Sources and Authority
When Consent Not Freely Given. Civil Code sections 1567, 1568.
Undue Influence. Civil Code section 1575.
The question of undue influence is decided as a question of fact: “[D]irect
evidence of undue influence is rarely obtainable and, thus the court is normally
relegated to determination by inference from the totality of facts and
circumstances. Indeed, there are no fixed definitions or inflexible formulas.
Rather, we are concerned with whether from the entire context it appears that
one’s will was overborne and he was induced to do or forbear to do an act
which he would not do, or would do, if left to act freely.” (Keithley v. Civil
Service Bd. of the City of Oakland (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 443, 451 [89 Cal.Rptr.
809], internal citations omitted.)
“In essence, undue influence consists of the use of excessive pressure by a
dominant person over a servient person resulting in the apparent will of the
servient person being in fact the will of the dominant person. The undue
susceptibility to such overpersuasive influence may be the product of physical or
emotional exhaustion or anguish which results in one’s inability to act with
unencumbered volition.” (Keithley, supra, 11 Cal.App.3d at p. 451.)
Whether or not the parties have a confidential relationship is a question of fact:
“It is, of course, well settled that while the mere fact that a relationship is
friendly and intimate does not necessarily amount to a confidential relationship,
such relationship may be said to exist whenever trust and confidence is reposed
by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another. It is likewise frequently
emphasized that the existence of a confidential relationship presents a question
of fact which, of necessity, may be determined only on a case by case basis.”
(O’Neil v. Spillane (1975) 45 Cal.App.3d 147, 153 [119 Cal.Rptr. 245], internal
citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Contracts, §§ 317-322
17 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 215, Duress, Menace, Fraud,
Undue Influence, and Mistake, §§ 215.40-215.42, 215.130-215.132 (Matthew
9 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 92, Duress, Menace, Fraud, Undue
Influence, and Mistake, § 92.70 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
27 California Legal Forms, Ch. 77, Discharge of Obligations, § 77.352 (Matthew
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 8, Seeking or
Opposing Equitable Remedies in Contract Actions, 8.07
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 17, Attacking
or Defending Existence of Contract - Fraud, Duress, Menace, and Undue Influence,
17.03-17.06, 17.25-17.28

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