California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3924. No Punitive Damages

You must not include in your award any damages to punish or make an example of [name of defendant]. Such damages would be punitive damages, and they cannot be a part of your verdict. You must award only the damages that fairly compensate [name of plaintiff] for [his/her/its] loss.

Directions for Use

Do not use this instruction if punitive damages are being sought in the phase of the trial in which these instructions are given.

Sources and Authority

"Punitive damages are not permitted in wrongful death actions." (Cortez v. Macias (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 640, 657 [167 Cal.Rptr. 905].)

"The punitive damages theory cannot be predicated on the breach of contract cause of action without an underlying tort." (Palmer v. Ted Stevens Honda, Inc. (1987) 193 Cal.App.3d 530, 536 [238 Cal.Rptr. 363], internal citations omitted.)

"An award of punitive damages is not supported by a verdict based on breach of contract, even where the defendant's conduct in breaching the contract was wilful, fraudulent, or malicious. Even in those cases in which a separate tort action is alleged, if there is 'but one verdict based upon contract' a punitive damage award is improper." (Myers Building Industries, Ltd. v. Interface Technology, Inc. (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 949, 960 [17 Cal.Rptr.2d 242], internal citations omitted.)

Government Code section 818 provides: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a public entity is not liable for damages awarded under Section 3294 of the Civil Code or other damages imposed primarily for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant."

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Torts, § 1343, pp. 805-806

4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 54, Punitive Damages, §§ 54.05, 54.08 (Matthew Bender)

California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar 1988) Punitive Damages, § 14.3

15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages (Matthew Bender)

6 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 65, Damages (Matthew Bender)

(New September 2003)