CACI No. 359. Present Cash Value of Future Damages

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2020 edition)

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359.Present Cash Value of Future Damages
To recover for future harm, [name of plaintiff] must prove that the harm
is reasonably certain to occur and must prove the amount of those future
damages. The amount of damages for future harm must be reduced to
present cash value. This is necessary because money received now will,
through investment, grow to a larger amount in the future. [Name of
defendant] must prove the amount by which future damages should be
reduced to present value.
To find present cash value, you must determine the amount of money
that, if reasonably invested today, will provide [name of plaintiff] with the
amount of [his/her/nonbinary pronoun/its] future damages.
[You may consider expert testimony in determining the present cash
value of future damages.] [You must use [the interest rate of
percent/ [and] [specify other stipulated information]] agreed to by the
parties in determining the present cash value of future damages.]
New September 2003; Revised December 2010, June 2013
Directions for Use
Give this instruction if future damages are sought and there is evidence from which
a reduction to present value can be made. Give the next-to-last sentence if there has
been expert testimony on reduction to present value. Unless there is a stipulation,
expert testimony will usually be required to accurately establish present values for
future losses. Give the last sentence if there has been a stipulation as to the interest
rate to use or any other facts related to present cash value.
It would appear that because reduction to present value benefits the defendant, the
defendant bears the burden of proof on the discount rate. (See Wilson v. Gilbert
(1972) 25 Cal.App.3d 607, 613-614 [102 Cal.Rptr. 31] [no error to refuse
instruction on reduction to present value when defendant presented no evidence].)
Present-value tables may assist the jury in making its determination of present cash
value. Tables, worksheets, and an instruction on how to use them are provided in
CACI No. 3904B, Use of Present-Value Tables.
Sources and Authority
• Future Damages. Civil Code section 3283.
• “In an action for damages for such a breach, the plaintiff in that one action
recovers all his damages, past and prospective. A judgment for the plaintiff in
such an action absolves the defendant from any duty, continuing or otherwise, to
perform the contract. The judgment for damages is substituted for the
wrongdoer’s duty to perform the contract.” (Coughlin v. Blair (1953) 41 Cal.2d
587, 598 [262 P.2d 305], internal citations omitted.)
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• “If the breach is partial only, the injured party may recover damages for non-
performance only to the time of trial and may not recover damages for
anticipated future non-performance. Furthermore, even if a breach is total, the
injured party may treat it as partial, unless the wrongdoer has repudiated the
contract. The circumstances of each case determine whether an injured party
may treat a breach of contract as total.” (Coughlin, supra, 41 Cal.2d at pp.
598-599, internal citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 1719
15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages, § 177.46
(Matthew Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 7, Seeking or
Opposing Damages in Contract Actions, 7.09[3]
CONTRACTS CACI No. 359
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