3902.Economic and Noneconomic Damages
The damages claimed by [name of plaintiff] for the harm caused by
[name of defendant] fall into two categories called economic damages and
noneconomic damages. You will be asked on the verdict form to state
the two categories of damages separately.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
This instruction may not be necessary in every case.
Sources and Authority
• Proposition 51. Civil Code section 1431.2.
• MICRA Limitation on Noneconomic Damages From Health Care Provider.
Civil Code section 3333.2.
• The Supreme Court has noted that section 1431.2 “carefully” define the
“important distinction” between economic and noneconomic damages. (DaFonte
v. Up-Right, Inc. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 593, 600 [7 Cal.Rptr.2d 238, 828 P.2d 140].)
The court stated: “Proposition 51 . . . retains the joint liability of all
tortfeasors, regardless of their respective shares of fault, with respect to all
objectively provable expenses and monetary losses. On the other hand, the more
intangible and subjective categories of damages were limited by Proposition 51
to a rule of strict proportionate liability. With respect to these noneconomic
damages, the plaintiff alone now assumes the risk that a proportionate
contribution cannot be obtained from each person responsible for the injury.”
(Ibid., internal citation omitted.)
• “Proposition 51 . . . allows an injured plaintiff to recover the full amount of
economic damages suffered, regardless of which tortfeaser or tortfeasors are
named as defendants. The tortfeasors are left to sort out payment in proportion
to fault amongst themselves, and they must bear the risk of nonrecovery from
impecunious tortfeasors. As to noneconomic damages, however, the plaintiff
must sue all the tortfeasors to enable a full recovery. Failure to name a
defendant will preclude recovery of that defendant’s proportional share of
damages, and the plaintiff will bear the risk of nonrecovery from an
impecunious tortfeasor.” (Aetna Health Plans of California, Inc. v. Yucaipa-
Calimesa Joint Unifie School Dist. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1175, 1190 [85
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 53, 61, 62
California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar) Bodily Injury, § 1.5
4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 74, Resolving Multiparty Tort Litigation, § 74.04