CACI No. 3924. No Punitive Damages

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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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/
nonbinary pronoun/its] loss.
New September 2003
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
No Governmental Liability for Punitive Damages. Government Code section
“Punitive damages are not permitted in wrongful death actions.” (Cortez v.
Macias (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 640, 657 [167 Cal.Rptr. 905].)
“[P]unitive damages are prohibited in an action against a public entity.” (Pearl v.
City of Los Angeles (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 475, 486 [248 Cal.Rptr.3d 508].)
“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.)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 1751
California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar) Punitive Damages, § 14.3
4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 54, Punitive Damages, §§ 54.05, 54.08 (Matthew
15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages, § 177.51
(Matthew Bender)

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