California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

355. Obligation to Pay Money Only

To recover damages for the breach of a contract to pay money, [name of plaintiff] must prove the amount due under the contract.

New September 2003

Directions for Use

Read this instruction in conjunction with CACI No. 350, Introduction to Contract Damages. If there is a dispute as to the appropriate rate of interest, the jury should be instructed to determine the rate. Otherwise, the judge should calculate the interest and add the appropriate amount of interest to the verdict.

Sources and Authority

  • Civil Code section 3302 provides: “The detriment caused by the breach of an obligation to pay money only, is deemed to be the amount due by the terms of the obligation, with interest thereon.”
  • Civil Code section 3289 provides:

    (a) Any legal rate of interest stipulated by a contract remains chargeable after a breach thereof, as before, until the contract is superseded by a verdict or other new obligation.

    (b) If a contract entered into after January 1, 1986, does not stipulate a legal rate of interest, the obligation shall bear interest at a rate of 10 percent per annum after a breach.

    For the purposes of this subdivision, the term contract shall not include a note secured by a deed of trust on real property.

  • “The section is part of the original Civil Code and was intended to codify a common-law rule of damages for breach of a contract to pay a liquidated sum. In Siminoff v. Jas. H. Goodman & Co. Bank, the court after careful and extensive analysis concluded that section 3302 was not intended to abolish the common-law measure of damages for dishonor of a check. Hartford, in reaching the opposite conclusion, failed even to note the common-law rule or the California cases which had followed it, and did not discuss the strong arguments in its favor advanced in the Siminoff opinion. The Hartford holding on section 3302 no longer applies to the instant problem since section 3320 clearly constitutes ‘a legislative recognition that a depositor whose check is wrongfully dishonored may thereby sustain “actual damage” beyond the amount of the check’ and thus supersedes the Hartford holding on the measure of damages.” (Weaver v. Bank of America National Trust & Savings Assn. (1963) 59 Cal.2d 428, 436, fn. 11 [30 Cal.Rptr. 4, 380 P.2d 644], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Contracts, § 908

1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 7, Seeking or Opposing Damages in Contract Actions, 7.04[7][a]