California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3023. Ralph Act (Civ. Code, § 51.7) - Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] subjected [him/ her] to violence or threat of violence based on [his/her] [sex/race/ color/religion/ancestry/national origin/political affiliation/sex/sexual orientation/age/disability/position in a labor dispute/[insert other actionable characteristic]]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] threatened or committed violent acts against [name of plaintiff] [or [his/her] property];

2. That a motivating reason for [name of defendant]'s conduct was [[his/her] perception of] [name of plaintiff]'s [sex/race/ color/religion/ancestry/national origin/political affiliation/ sex/sexual orientation/age/disability/position in a labor dispute/[insert other actionable characteristic]];

3. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

4. That [name of defendant]'s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]'s harm.

Directions for Use

Note that this instruction uses the standard of "a motivating reason." The causation standard is still an open issue under this statute.

Liability may also be found where a defendant "aids, incites, or conspires" in the denial of a right protected under Civil Code section 51.7. Civil Code section 52(b) provides, in part: "Whoever denies the right provided by Section 51.7 . . . or aids, incites, or conspires in that denial, is liable for each and every offense for the actual damages suffered by any person denied that right . . . ." This instruction should be modified if aiding, inciting, or conspiring is asserted as theories of liability. See also instructions in the Conspiracy series.

Sources and Authority

Civil Code section 51.7 provides:

(a) All persons within the jurisdiction of this state have the right to be free from any violence, or intimidation by threat of violence, committed against their persons or property because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or position in a labor dispute, or because another person perceives them to have one or more of those characteristics. The identification in this subdivision of particular bases of discrimination is illustrative rather than restrictive. This section does not apply to statements concerning positions in a labor dispute which are made during otherwise lawful labor picketing.

(b) As used in this section, "sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

Civil Code section 52(b) provides: Whoever denies the right provided by Section 51.7 or 51.9, or aids, incites, or conspires in that denial, is liable for each and every offense for the actual damages suffered by any person denied that right and, in addition, the following:

(1) An amount to be determined by a jury, or a court sitting without a jury, for exemplary damages.

(2) A civil penalty of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) to be awarded to the person denied the right provided by Section 51.7 in any action brought by the person denied the right, or by the Attorney General, a district attorney, or a city attorney.

(3) Attorney's fees as may be determined by the court.

"The unambiguous language of this section gives rise to a cause of action in favor of a person against whom violence or intimidation has been committed or threatened." (Coon v. Joseph (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1269, 1277 [237 Cal.Rptr. 873].)

"The test is: 'would a reasonable person, standing in the shoes of the plaintiff, have been intimidated by the actions of the defendant and have perceived a threat of violence?' " (Winarto v. Toshiba America Electronics Components, Inc. (9th Cir. 2001) 274 F.3d 1276, 1289- 1290, internal citation omitted.)

"Section 51 by its express language applies only within California. It cannot (with its companion penalty provisions in § 52) be extended nto the Hawaiian jurisdiction. A state cannot regulate or proscribe activities conducted in another state or supervise the internal affairs of another state in any way, even though the welfare or health of its citizens may be affected when they travel to that state." (Archibald v. Cinerama Hawaiian Hotels, Inc. (1977) 73 Cal.App.3d 152, 159 [140 Cal.Rptr. 599], internal citations omitted, disapproved on other grounds in Koire v. Metro Car Wash (1985) 40 Cal.3d 24 [219 Cal.Rptr. 133, 707 P.2d 195].)

Secondary Sources

3 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 35, Civil Rights (Matthew Bender)

(New September 2003)