California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

5012. Introduction to Special Verdict Form

Download PDF
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. Although you
may discuss the evidence and the issues to be decided in any order, you
must answer the questions on the verdict form[s] in the order they
appear. After you answer a question, the form tells you what to do next.
At least 9 of you must agree on an answer before you can move on to
the next question. However, the same 9 or more people do not have to
agree on each answer.
All 12 of you must deliberate on and answer each question regardless of
how you voted on any earlier question. Unless the verdict form tells all
12 jurors to stop and answer no further questions, every juror must
deliberate and vote on all of the remaining questions.
When you have finished filling out the form[s], your presiding juror
must write the date and sign it at the bottom [of the last page] and then
notify the [bailiff/clerk/court attendant] that you are ready to present
your verdict in the courtroom.
New September 2003; Revised April 2004, October 2008, December 2009,
December 2014
Directions for Use
This instruction should be given if a special verdict form is used.
Sources and Authority
• General and Special Verdict Forms. Code of Civil Procedure section 624.
• Special Verdicts; Requirements for Award of Punitive Damages. Code of Civil
Procedure section 625.
• “ ‘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
Civ. Proc., § 624.)” (J.P. v. Carlsbad Unified School Dist. (2014) 232
Cal.App.4th 323, 338 [181 Cal.Rptr.3d 286].)
• “ ‘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 . . . .” [Citation.]’ [Citation.]” ’ ‘A special verdict is
“fatally defective” if it does not allow the jury to resolve every controverted
issue.’ ”(J.P., supra, 232 Cal.App.4th at p. 338, internal citations omitted.)
• “When a jury is composed of 12 persons, it is sufficient if any nine jurors arrive
at each special verdict, regardless of the jurors’ votes on other special verdict
questions.” (Keener v. Jeld-Wen, Inc. (2009) 46 Cal.4th 247, 255 [92
Cal.Rptr.3d 862, 206 P.3d 403], original italics.)
• “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.)
• “[W]e begin with the requirement that at least nine of twelve jurors agree that
each element of a cause of action has been proved by a preponderance of the
evidence. The elements of a cause of action constitute the essential or ultimate
facts in a civil case comparable to the elements of a single, discrete criminal
offense in a criminal case. Analogizing a civil ‘cause of action’ to a single,
discrete criminal offense, and applying the criminal law jury agreement
principles to civil law, we conclude that jurors need not agree from among a
number of alternative acts which act is proved, so long as the jurors agree that
each element of the cause of action is proved.” (Stoner v. Williams (1996) 46
Cal.App.4th 986, 1002 [54 Cal.Rptr.2d 243, footnote omitted.)
• “In civil cases in which there exist multiple causes of action for which multiple
or alternative acts could support elements of more than one cause of action,
possible jury confusion could result as to whether a specific cause of action is
proved. In those cases, . . . we presume that jury instructions may be
appropriate to inform the jury that it must agree on specific elements of each
specific cause of action. Yet, this still does not require that the jurors agree on
exactly how each particular element of a particular cause of action is proved.”
(Stoner, supra, 46 Cal.App.4th at p. 1002.)
• “[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 may 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.)
Secondary Sources
7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, §§ 342–346
4California Trial Guide, Unit 91, Jury Deliberations and Rendition of Verdict,
§ 91.21 (Matthew Bender)
27 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 318, Judgments, § 318.49
(Matthew Bender)
28 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 326A, Jury Verdicts, § 326A.11
et seq. (Matthew Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure,
Ch. 18, Jury Verdicts, 18.11 et seq.
California Judges Benchbook: Civil Proceedings—Trial (2d ed.) § 15.14 (Cal CJER