CACI No. 5022. Introduction to General Verdict Form

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2020 edition)

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5022.Introduction to General Verdict Form
I will give you [a] general verdict form[s]. The form[s] ask[s] you to find
either in favor of [name of plaintiff] or [name of defendant]. [It also asks
you to answer [an] additional question[s] regarding [specify, e.g., the right
to punitive damages].] I have already instructed you on the law that you
are to refer to in making your determination[s].
At least nine of you must agree on your decision [and in answering the
additional question[s]]. [If there is more than one question on the verdict
form, as long as nine of you agree on your answers to each question, the
same nine do not have to agree on each answer.]
In reaching your verdict [and answering the additional question[s]], you
must decide whether the party with the burden of proof has proved all
of the necessary facts in support of each required element of [his/her/
nonbinary pronoun/its] claim or defense. You should review the elements
addressed in the other instructions that I have given you and determine
if at least nine of you agree that each element has been proven by the
evidence received in the trial. The same nine do not have to agree on
each element.
When you have finished filling out the form, your presiding juror must
write the date and sign it at the bottom and then notify the [bailiff/clerk/
court attendant] that you are ready to present your verdict in the
New May 2018; Revised May 2019
Directions for Use
If a general verdict will be used, this instruction may be given to guide the jury on
how to go about reaching a verdict. With a general verdict, there is a danger that the
jury will shortcut the deliberative process of carefully looking at each element of
each claim or defense and simply vote for the plaintiff or for the defendant. This
instruction directs the jury to approach its task as if a special verdict were being
used and questions on each element of each claim or defense had to be answered.
This instruction assumes that the rule applicable to special verdicts, that the same
nine jurors do not need to agree on every element of a claim as long as there are
nine in favor of each (see Juarez v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 759, 768-769
[183 Cal.Rptr. 852, 647 P.2d 128]; CACI No. 5012, Introduction to Special Verdict
Form), would apply to deliberations using a general verdict.
This purpose of this instruction is to lessen the possibility that the “paradox of
shifting majorities” will happen. This paradox occurs when the same jury analyzing
the same evidence would find liability with a special verdict, but not with a general
verdict. The possibility arises because with a special verdict, a juror who votes no
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on one question but is in a minority of three or fewer must continue to deliberate
and vote on all of the remaining questions.
If, for example, the vote on element 3 is 9-3 yes with jurors 10-12 voting no, and
the vote on element 4 is 11-1 yes with juror 1 voting no, there will be liability with
a special verdict because each element has received nine yes votes. But if a general
verdict is used, there would be no liability because only eight jurors have found true
every element of the claim. The California Supreme Court has found this result to
be proper with regard to special verdicts. (See Juarez,supra, 31 Cal.3d at p. 768.)
With a general verdict, if the jury votes on each element of each claim or defense, it
is more likely to find nine votes for each element, even though it may be a different
nine each time.
The second and third paragraphs will have to be modified in a case under the
Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. (See CACI No. 4012, Concluding Instruction (for LPS
Sources and Authority
• “[I]f nine identical jurors agree that a party is negligent and that such negligence
is the proximate cause of the other party’s injuries, special verdicts apportioning
damages are valid so long as they command the votes of any nine jurors. To
hold otherwise would be to prohibit jurors who dissent on the question of a
party’s liability from participation in the important remaining issue of allocating
responsibility among the parties, a result that would deny all parties the right to
a jury of 12 persons deliberating on all issues.” (Juarez,supra, 31 Cal.3d at p.
768, original italics.)
• “To determine whether a general verdict is supported by the evidence it is
necessary to ascertain the issues embraced within the verdict and measure the
sufficiency of the evidence as related to those issues. For this purpose reference
may be had to the pleadings, the pretrial order and the charge to the jury. A
general verdict implies a finding of every fact essential to its validity which is
supported by the evidence. Where several issues responsive to different theories
of law are presented to the jury and the evidence is sufficient to support facts
sustaining the verdict under one of those theories, it will be upheld even though
the evidence is insufficient to support facts sustaining it under any other theory.”
(Owens v. Pyeatt (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 840, 844 [57 Cal.Rptr. 100], internal
citations omitted.)
• “Implicit in [general] verdicts is the presumption that ‘all material facts in issue
as to which substantial evidence was received were determined in a manner
consistent and in conformance with the verdict.’ ” (Coorough v. De Lay (1959)
171 Cal.App.2d 41, 45 [339 P.2d 963].)
• “A general verdict imports a finding in favor of the winning party on all the
averments of his pleading material to his recovery.” (Behr v. County of Santa
Cruz (1959) 172 Cal.App.2d 697, 712 [342 P.2d 987].)
Secondary Sources
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7 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Trial, § 338
Wegner, et al., California Practice Guide: Civil Trials & Evidence, Ch. 17-A,
Verdicts, ¶ 17:1 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
Haning, et al., California Practice Guide: Personal Injury Ch. 9-M, Trial of a
Personal Injury Case - Verdicts and Judgment ¶ 9:645 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
4 California Trial Guide, Unit 91, Jury Deliberations and Rendition of Verdict,
§ 91.21 (Matthew Bender)
28 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 326A, Jury Verdicts, § 326A.11 et
seq. (Matthew Bender)
Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure, Ch.
18, Jury Verdicts, 18.03 et seq.
5023-5089. Reserved for Future Use
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