California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
5012. Introduction to Special Verdict Form
I will give you [a] verdict form[s] with questions you must answer. I have already instructed you on the law that you are to use in answering these questions. You must follow my instructions and the form[s] carefully. You must consider each question separately. Please answer the questions in the order they appear. After you answer a question, the form tells you what to do next. At least nine of you must agree on an answer before you can move on to the next question. However, the same nine or more people do not have to agree on each answer.
When you are finished filling out the form[s], your presiding juror must write the date and sign it at the bottom. Return the form[s] to [me/the bailiff/the clerk] when you have finished.
Directions for Use
If this instruction is read, do not read the sixth paragraph of CACI No. 5009, Predeliberation Instructions.
Sources and Authority
Code of Civil Procedure section 624 provides: "The verdict of a jury is either general or special. A general verdict is that by which they pronounce generally upon all or any of the issues, either in favor of the plaintiff or defendant; a special verdict is that by which the jury find the facts only, leaving the judgment to the Court. The special verdict must present the conclusions of fact as established by the evidence, and not the evidence to prove them; and those conclusions of fact must be so presented as that nothing shall remain to the Court but to draw from them conclusions of law."
Code of Civil Procedure section 625 provides: "In all cases the court may direct the jury to find a special verdict in writing, upon all, or any of the issues, and in all cases may instruct them, if they render a general verdict, to find upon particular questions of fact, to be stated in writing, and may direct a written finding thereon. In all cases in which the issue of punitive damages is presented to the jury the court shall direct the jury to find a special verdict in writing separating punitive damages from compensatory damages. The special verdict or finding ust be filed with the clerk and entered upon the minutes. Where a special finding of facts is inconsistent with the general verdict, the former controls the latter, and the court must give judgment accordingly."
"A special verdict presents to the jury each ultimate fact in the case, so that 'nothing shall remain to the Court but to draw from them conclusions of law.' This procedure presents certain problems: ' "The requirement that the jury must resolve every controverted issue is one of the recognized pitfalls of special verdicts. '[T]he possibility of a defective or incomplete special verdict, or possibly no verdict at all, is much greater than with a general verdict that is tested by special findings. . . .' " ' With a special verdict, we do not imply findings on all issues in favor of the prevailing party, as with a general verdict. The verdict's correctness must be analyzed as a matter of law." (Trujillo v. North County Transit Dist. (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 280, 285 [73 Cal.Rptr.2d 596], internal citations omitted.)
"Appellate courts differ concerning the use of special verdicts. In one case the court said, 'we should utilize opportunities to force counsel into requesting special verdicts.' In contrast, a more recent decision included the negative view: 'Toward this end we advise that special findings be requested of juries only when there is a compelling need to do so. Absent strong reason to the contrary their use should be discouraged.' Obviously, it is easier to tell after the fact, rather than before, whether the special verdict is helpful in disclosing the jury conclusions leading to the end result." (All-West Design, Inc. v. Boozer (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 1212, 1221 [228 Cal.Rptr. 736], internal citations omitted.)
"[A] juror who dissented from a special verdict finding negligence should not be disqualified from fully participating in the jury's further deliberations, including the determination of proximate cause. The jury is to determine all questions submitted to it, and when the jury is composed of twelve persons, each should participate as to each verdict submitted to it. To hold that a juror may be disqualified by a special verdict on negligence from participation in the next special verdict would deny the parties of 'the right to a jury of 12 persons deliberating on all issues.' Permitting any nine jurors to arrive at each special verdict best serves the purpose of less-than-unanimous verdicts, overcoming minor disagreements and avoiding costly mistrials. Once nine jurors have found a party negligent, dissenting jurors can accept the finding and participate in determining proximate cause just as they ay participate in apportioning liability, and we may not assume that the dissenting jurors will violate their oaths to deliberate honestly and conscientiously on the proximate cause issue." (Resch v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. (1984) 36 Cal.3d 676, 682 [205 Cal.Rptr. 827, 685 P.2d 1178], internal citations omitted.)
7 Witkin, California Procedure (4th ed. 1997) Trial, §§ 352-355
(Revised April 2004)