CACI No. 3114. “Malice” Explained
Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)Download PDF
“Malice” means that [[name of individual defendant]/[name of employer
defendant]’s employee] acted with intent to cause injury or that [his/her/
nonbinary pronoun] conduct was despicable and was done with a willful
and knowing disregard of the rights or safety of another. A person acts
with knowing disregard when the person is aware of the probable
dangerous consequences of the person’s conduct and deliberately fails to
avoid those consequences.
“Despicable conduct” is conduct that is so vile, base, or contemptible
that it would be looked down on and despised by reasonable people.
New September 2003; Revised October 2008, May 2020
Directions for Use
If the individual responsible for the elder abuse is a defendant in the case, use
“[name of individual defendant].” If only the individual’s employer is a defendant,
use “[name of employer defendant]’s employee.”
Sources and Authority
• “Malice” for Punitive Damages Defined. Civil Code section 3294(c)(1).
• “Used in its ordinary sense, the adjective ‘despicable’ is a powerful term that
refers to circumstances that are ‘base,’ ‘vile,’ or ‘contemptible.’ As amended to
include this word, the statute plainly indicates that absent an intent to injure the
plaintiff, ‘malice’ requires more than a ‘willful and conscious’ disregard of the
plaintiffs’ interests. The additional component of ‘despicable conduct’ must be
found.” (College Hospital, Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725 [34
Cal.Rptr.2d 898, 882 P.2d 894], internal citations omitted.)
• “Under the statute, ‘malice does not require actual intent to harm. [Citation.]
Conscious disregard for the safety of another may be sufficient where the
defendant is aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his or her conduct
and he or she willfully fails to avoid such consequences. [Citation.] Malice may
be proved either expressly through direct evidence or by implication through
indirect evidence from which the jury draws inferences. [Citation.]’ ” (Pfeifer v.
John Crane, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1299 [164 Cal.Rptr.3d 112].)
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 1727, 1729
1 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 5, Abuse of Minors and Elderly,
§ 5.33 (Matthew Bender)
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