California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3960. Contributory Negligence - General Verdict

If you decide that [name of plaintiff]'s negligence combined with [name of defendant]'s [negligence/conduct/product] in causing [name of plaintiff]'s harm, then you must decide the percentage of responsibility for the harm that you attribute to each of them.

First, decide the total amount of [name of plaintiff]'s damages. Then decide the percentage of responsibility that [name of plaintiff] and [name of defendant] have for the damages. Then reduce the total damages by the percentage of responsibility that you attribute to [name of plaintiff].

After you make these calculations, state the reduced damage award in your verdict.

Sources and Authority

"In determining to what degree the injury was due to the fault of the plaintiff, it is logically essential that the plaintiff's negligence be weighed against the combined total of all other causative negligence; moreover, inasmuch as a plaintiff's actual damages do not vary by virtue of the particular defendants who happen to be before the court, we do not think that the damages which a plaintiff may recover against defendants who are joint and severally liable should fluctuate in such a manner." (American Motorcycle Assn. v. Superior Court (1978) 20 Cal.3d 578, 590, fn. 2 [146 Cal.Rptr. 182, 578 P.2d 899].)

"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 damage 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." (DaFonte v. Up-Right, Inc. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 593, 600 [7 Cal.Rptr.2d 238, 828 P.2d 140].)

Secondary Sources

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)