CACI California Civil Jury Instructions

Judicial Council of California
Civil Jury Instructions


* Pronounced “Casey”

As approved at the
Judicial Council May 2020 Meeting
and Judicial Council Rules Committee April 2020 Meeting

Judicial Council of California

Series 100-2500



  1. Preliminary Admonitions (revised)
  2. Overview of Trial (revised)
  3. Taking Notes During the Trial (revised)
  4. Multiple Parties (revised)
  5. Nonperson Party (revised)
  6. Insurance (revised)
  7. Evidence (new)
  8. Witnesses
  9. Duty to Abide by Translation Provided in Court
  10. Removal of Claims or Parties
  11. Service Provider for Juror with Disability
  12. Instruction to Alternate Jurors
  13. Questions from Jurors
  14. Bias
  15. Bench Conferences and Conferences in Chambers
  16. Class Action Defined Plaintiff Class
  17. Why Electronic Communications and Research Are Prohibited
  18. Wealth of Parties
  19. Personal Pronouns


  1. Obligation to Prove—More Likely True Than Not True (revised)
  2. Highly Probable Clear and Convincing Proof
  3. Direct and Indirect Evidence (revised)
  4. Party Having Power to Produce Better Evidence
  5. Willful Suppression of Evidence
  6. Failure to Explain or Deny Evidence
  7. Evidence Admitted for Limited Purpose
  8. Evidence Applicable to One Party
  9. Deposition as Substantive Evidence
  10. Use of Interrogatories of a Party
  11. Requests for Admissions
  12. Prior Conviction of a Felony
  13. Statements of a Party Opponent
  14. Adoptive Admissions
  15. Reserved for Future Use
  16. Exercise of a Communication Privilege
  17. Exercise of Right Not to Incriminate Oneself (Evid. Code, § 913)
  18. Evidence of Settlement
  19. Statements Made to Physician (Previously Existing Condition)
  20. Expert Witness Testimony
  21. Experts—Questions Containing Assumed Facts
  22. Conflicting Expert Testimony
  23. Evidence of Sliding-Scale Settlement
  24. Opinion Testimony of Lay Witness
  25. Testimony of Child


  1. Breach of Contract—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  2. Unformalized Agreement (revised)
  3. Contract Formation—Offer (revised)
  4. Contract Formation—Revocation of Offer (revised)
  5. Contract Formation—Acceptance (revised)
  6. Contract Formation—Acceptance by Silence (revised)
  7. Contract Formation—Rejection of Offer (revised)
  8. Substantial Performance (revised)
  9. Occurrence of Agreed Condition Precedent (revised)
  10. Anticipatory Breach (revised)
  11. Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  12. Affirmative Defense—Economic Duress (revised)

VF-300. Breach of Contract (revised)

VF-303. Breach of Contract—Contract Formation at Issue (revised)


  1. Basic Standard of Care (revised)
  2. Intoxication (revised)
  3. Reliance on Good Conduct of Others (revised)
  1. Amount of Caution Required in Dangerous Situations (revised)
  2. Special Doctrines: Res ipsa loquitur (revised)
  3. Negligence per se: Rebuttal of the Presumption of Negligence—Violation Excused (revised)
  4. Providing Alcoholic Beverages to Obviously Intoxicated Minors (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 25602.1) (revised)
  5. Furnishing Alcoholic Beverages to Minors (Civ. Code, § 1714(d)) (revised)
  6. Negligent Sexual Transmission of Disease (revised)
  7. Causation: Substantial Factor (revised)
  8. Causation for Asbestos-Related Cancer Claims (revised)
  9. Unreasonable Force by Law Enforcement Officer in Arrest or Other Seizure—Essential Factual Elements (revised)

450B. Good Samaritan—Scene of Emergency (revised)

  1. Affirmative Defense—Statute of Limitations (revised)
  2. Statute of Limitations—Delayed Discovery (revised)
  3. Defendant Estopped From Asserting Statute of Limitations Defense (revised)
  4. Strict Liability for Injury Caused by Domestic Animal With Dangerous Propensities—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  5. Dog Bite Statute (Civ. Code, § 3342)—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  6. Primary Assumption of Risk—Exception to Nonliability—Instructors, Trainers, or Coaches (revised)
  7. Primary Assumption of Risk—Exception to Nonliability—Occupation Involving Inherent Risk (revised)

VF-402. Negligence—Fault of Plaintiff and Others at Issue (revised)


503A. Psychotherapist’s Duty to Protect Intended Victim From Patient’s Threat (revised)

503B. Affirmative Defense—Psychotherapist’s Communication of Threat to Victim and Law Enforcement (revised)

  1. Derivative Liability of Surgeon (revised)
  2. Affirmative Defense—Patient’s Duty to Provide for the Patient’s Own Well-Being (revised)
  3. Failure to Obtain Informed Consent—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  4. Risks of Nontreatment—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  5. Affirmative Defense—Plaintiff Would Have Consented (revised)
  6. Affirmative Defense—Waiver (revised)
  7. Affirmative Defense—Statute of Limitations—Medical Malpractice—One-Year Limit (Code Civ. Proc., § 340.5) (revised)

VF-501. Medical Negligence—Informed Consent—Affirmative Defense—Plaintiff Would Have Consented Even If Informed (revised)

VF-502. Medical Negligence—Informed Consent—Affirmative Defense—Emergency (revised)


  1. Standard of Care (revised)
  2. Negligent Handling of Legal Matter (revised)
  1. Alternative Legal Decisions or Strategies (revised)
  2. Affirmative Defense—Statute of Limitations—Attorney Malpractice—One-Year Limit (Code Civ. Proc., § 340.6) (revised)


  1. Waiver of Right-of-Way (revised)
  2. Left Turns (Veh. Code, § 21801) (revised)
  3. Speed Limit (Veh. Code, § 22352) (revised)
  4. Driving Under the Influence (Veh. Code, §§ 23152, 23153) (revised)
  5. Duties of Care for Pedestrians and Drivers in Crosswalk (Veh. Code, § 21950) (revised)
  6. The Passenger’s Duty of Care for Own Safety (revised)


  1. Comparative Fault—Duty to Approach Crossing With Care (revised)


  1. Status of Passenger Disputed (revised)


  1. Basic Duty of Care (revised)
  2. Extent of Control Over Premises Area (revised)


  1. Dangerous Condition on Public Property—Essential Factual Elements (Gov. Code, § 835) (revised)
  2. Definition of “Dangerous Condition” (Gov. Code, § 830(a)) (revised)

VF-1100. Dangerous Condition of Public Property (revised)

VF-1101. Dangerous Condition of Public Property—Affirmative Defense—Reasonable Act or Omission (Gov. Code, § 835.4) (revised)


  1. Strict Liability—Manufacturing Defect—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  2. Strict Liability—Design Defect—Consumer Expectation Test—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  3. Strict Liability—Design Defect—Risk-Benefit Test—Essential Factual Elements—Shifting Burden of Proof (revised)
  4. Strict Liability—Failure to Warn—Essential Factual Elements (revised)

1207A. Strict Liability—Comparative Fault of Plaintiff (revised)

  1. Negligence—Manufacturer or Supplier—Duty to Warn—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  2. Negligence—Negligence for Product Rental/Standard of Care (revised)

VF-1201. Strict Products Liability—Design Defect—Affirmative Defense—Misuse or Modification (revised)

VF-1206. Products Liability—Express Warranty—Affirmative Defense—Not “Basis of Bargain” (revised)

VF-1207. Products Liability—Implied Warranty of Merchantability—Affirmative Defense—Exclusion of Implied Warranties (revised)

VF-1208. Products Liability—Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose (revised)


  1. Battery by Peace Officer—Essential Factual Elements (revised)


  1. No Arrest Involved—Essential Factual Elements (revised)


  1. Wrongful Use of Civil Proceedings—Affirmative Defense—Attorney’s Reliance on Information Provided by Client (revised)


  1. Appropriation of Name or Likeness—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  2. Comprehensive Computer Data and Access Fraud Act—Essential Factual Elements (Pen. Code, § 502) (new)
  3. Definition of “Access” (Pen. Code, § 502(b)(1)) (new)
  4. Damages for Investigating Violations of Comprehensive Computer Data and Access Fraud Act (Pen. Code, § 502(e)(1)) (new)
  5. Damages for Use of Name or Likeness (Civ. Code § 3344(a)) (revised)


  1. Opinions as Statements of Fact (revised)
  2. Reasonable Reliance (revised)
  3. Real Estate Seller’s Nondisclosure of Material Facts (revised)


  1. Trespass—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  2. Trespass to Timber—Essential Factual Elements (Civ. Code, § 3346) (revised)
  3. Damage to Timber—Willful and Malicious Conduct (revised)
  4. “Intentional Entry” Explained (revised)


  1. Inducing Breach of Contract (revised)


  1. Affirmative Defense—Misrepresentation or Concealment in Insurance Application (revised)
  2. Bad Faith (First Party)—Breach of Duty to Inform Insured of Rights—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  3. Factors to Consider in Evaluating Insurer’s Conduct (revised)


  1. Breach of Employment Contract—Unspecified Term—Implied-in-Fact Promise Not to Discharge Without Good Cause (revised)
  2. Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Employment Contract—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  1. Affirmative Defense—Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Good Faith Though Mistaken Belief (revised)
  2. Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  3. Constructive Discharge in Violation of Public Policy—Plaintiff Required to Violate Public Policy (revised)
  4. Constructive Discharge in Violation of Public Policy—Plaintiff Required to Endure Intolerable Conditions That Violate Public Policy (revised)

VF-2404. Employment—Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (revised)

VF-2405. Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Affirmative Defense—Good Faith Mistaken Belief (revised)


  1. Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements (Gov. Code, § 12940(a)) (revised)
  2. Failure to File Timely Administrative Complaint (Gov. Code, § 12960(e))—Plaintiff Alleges Continuing Violation (revised)
  3. “Constructive Discharge” Explained (revised)
  4. Adverse Action Made by Decision Maker Without Animus (Cat’s Paw) (revised)

2521A. Work Environment Harassment—Conduct Directed at Plaintiff—Essential Factual Elements—Employer or Entity Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

2521C. Work Environment Harassment—Sexual Favoritism—Essential Factual Elements—Employer or Entity Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

2522A. Work Environment Harassment—Conduct Directed at Plaintiff—Essential Factual Elements—Individual Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

2522C. Work Environment Harassment—Sexual Favoritism—Essential Factual Elements—Individual

Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

  1. Affirmative Defense—Avoidable Consequences Doctrine (Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor) (revised)
  2. Disability Discrimination—Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  3. Disability Discrimination—“Essential Job Duties” Explained (Gov. Code, §§ 12926(f), 12940(a)(1)) (revised)
  4. Disability Discrimination—Affirmative Defense—Undue Hardship (revised)
  5. Disability-Based Associational Discrimination—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  6. Disability Discrimination—Refusal to Make Reasonable Accommodation in Housing (Gov. Code, § 12927(c)(1)) (revised)
  7. Disability Discrimination—Refusal to Permit Reasonable Modification to Housing Unit (Gov. Code, § 12927(c)(1)) (revised)
  8. Religious Creed Discrimination—Failure to Accommodate—Essential Factual Elements (Gov. Code, § 12940(l)) (revised)
  9. Religious Creed Discrimination—Reasonable Accommodation—Affirmative Defense—Undue Hardship (Gov. Code, §§ 12940(l)(1), 12926(u)) (revised)
  10. Age Discrimination—Disparate Treatment—Essential Factual Elements (revised)

VF-2501. Disparate Treatment—Affirmative Defense—Bona fide Occupational Qualification (Gov. Code, § 12940(a)) (revised)

VF-2506A. Work Environment Harassment—Conduct Directed at Plaintiff—Employer or Entity

Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

VF-2506B. Work Environment Harassment—Conduct Directed at Others—Employer or Entity Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

VF-2506C. Work Environment Harassment—Sexual Favoritism—Employer or Entity Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

VF-2507A. Work Environment Harassment—Conduct Directed at Plaintiff—Individual Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

VF-2507B. Work Environment Harassment—Conduct Directed at Others—Individual Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

VF-2507C. Work Environment Harassment—Sexual Favoritism—Individual Defendant (Gov. Code, §§ 12923, 12940(j)) (revised)

VF-2508. Disability Discrimination—Disparate Treatment (revised)

VF-2515. Limitation on Remedies—Same Decision (revised)


  1. Affirmative Defense—Employment Would Have Ceased (revised)


  1. Nonpayment of Minimum Wage—Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1194) (revised)
  2. Nonpayment of Overtime Compensation—Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1194) (revised)
  3. Damages—Waiting-Time Penalty for Nonpayment of Wages (Lab. Code, §§ 203, 218) (revised)
  4. Affirmative Defense to Labor Code, Unemployment Insurance Code, and Wage Order

Violations—Plaintiff Was Not Defendant’s Employee (Lab. Code, § 2750.3) (revised)

  1. Retaliatory Unfair Immigration-Related Practice—Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1019) (revised)
  2. Violation of Equal Pay Act—Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1197.5) (revised)
  3. Equal Pay Act—Retaliation—Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1197.5(k)) (revised)


  1. Employee Not Within Course of Employment—Employer Conduct Unrelated to Employment (revised)
  2. Coemployee’s Affirmative Defense—Injury Covered by Workers’ Compensation (revised)


  1. Excessive Use of Force—Unreasonable Arrest or Other Seizure—Essential Factual Elements (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)
  2. Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eighth Amendment—Substantial Risk of Serious Harm (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)
  3. Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eighth Amendment—Medical Care (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)
  4. Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eighth Amendment—Deprivation of Necessities (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)
  5. Retaliation—Essential Factual Elements (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)
  1. Retaliation for Exercise of Free Speech Rights—Public Employee—Essential Factual Elements (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)
  2. Disability Discrimination—Access Barriers to Public Facility—Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Act—Essential Factual Elements (Civ. Code, §§ 54.3, 55.56) (revised)
  3. Retaliation for Refusing to Authorize Disclosure of Medical Information—Essential Factual Elements (Civ. Code, § 56.20(b)) (revised)

VF-3012. Unreasonable Search or Seizure—Search or Seizure Without a Warrant (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (revised)


3102A. Employer Liability for Enhanced Remedies—Both Individual and Employer Defendants (Welf. &

Inst. Code, §§ 15657, 15657.05; Civ. Code, § 3294(b)) (revised)

3102B. Employer Liability for Enhanced Remedies—Employer Defendant Only (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 15657, 15657.05; Civ. Code, § 3294(b)) (revised)

  1. “Dependent Adult” Explained (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15610.23) (revised)
  2. “Malice” Explained (revised)


  1. Reasonable Number of Repair Opportunities—Rebuttable Presumption (Civ. Code, § 1793.22(b)) (revised)
  2. Continued Reasonable Use Permitted (revised)


  1. Affirmative Defense—“Good Faith” Explained (revised)


  1. Vertical Restraints—“Coercion” Explained (revised)


3511B. Damage to Remainder During Construction (Code Civ. Proc., § 1263.420(b)) (revised)

  1. Goodwill (revised)

VF-3501. Fair Market Value Plus Severance Damages (revised)


  1. Introduction to Vicarious Responsibility (revised)
  2. Existence of “Employee” Status Disputed (revised)
  3. Partnerships (revised)
  4. Substantial Deviation (revised)
  5. Going-and-Coming Rule—Vehicle-Use Exception (revised)
  6. Going-and-Coming Rule—Business-Errand Exception (revised)
  7. Going-and-Coming Rule—Compensated Travel Time Exception (revised)


  1. Comparative Fault Between and Among Tortfeasors (revised)
  2. Implied Contractual Indemnity (revised)


3903Q. Survival Damages (Economic Damage) (Code Civ. Proc, § 377.34) (revised)

3904A. Present Cash Value (revised)

  1. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult) (revised)
  2. Punitive Damages—Individual Defendant—Trial Not Bifurcated (revised)
  3. Punitive Damages—Individual Defendant—Bifurcated Trial (First Phase) (revised)
  4. Punitive Damages Against Employer or Principal for Conduct of a Specific Agent or Employee—Trial Not Bifurcated (revised)
  5. Punitive Damages Against Employer or Principal for Conduct of a Specific Agent or Employee—Bifurcated Trial (First Phase) (revised)
  6. Punitive Damages—Entity Defendant—Trial Not Bifurcated (revised)
  7. Punitive Damages—Entity Defendant—Bifurcated Trial (First Phase) (revised)
  8. Punitive Damages—Individual and Entity Defendants—Trial Not Bifurcated (revised)
  9. Punitive Damages—Individual and Corporate Defendants (Corporate Liability Based on Acts of Named Individual)—Bifurcated Trial (First Phase) (revised)


  1. Conservatorship—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  2. “Gravely Disabled” Explained (revised)


  1. Duties of Stockbroker—Speculative Securities (revised)
  2. Breach of Fiduciary Duty by Attorney—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  3. Duty of Disclosure by Real Estate Broker to Client (revised)
  4. Failure of Seller’s Real Estate Broker to Conduct Reasonable Inspection—Essential Factual Elements (Civ. Code, § 2079) (revised)
  5. Duty of Disclosure by Seller’s Real Estate Broker to Buyer (revised)
  6. Constructive Fraud (Civ. Code, § 1573) (revised)


  1. Introductory Instruction (revised)
  2. Expiration of Fixed-Term Tenancy—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  3. Sufficiency and Service of Notice of Termination for Failure to Pay Rent (revised)
  4. Termination for Violation of Terms of Lease/Agreement—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  5. Sufficiency and Service of Notice of Termination for Violation of Terms of Agreement (revised)
  6. Termination of Month-to-Month Tenancy—Essential Factual Elements (revised)
  7. Sufficiency and Service of Notice of Termination of Month-to-Month Tenancy (revised)
  8. Termination for Nuisance or Unlawful Use—Essential Factual Elements (Code Civ. Proc., § 1161(4)) (revised)
  9. Sufficiency and Service of Notice of Termination for Nuisance or Unlawful Use (revised)
  10. Affirmative Defense—Retaliatory Eviction—Tenant’s Complaint (Civ. Code, § 1942.5) (revised)
  11. Affirmative Defense—Discriminatory Eviction (Unruh Act) (revised)
  12. Affirmative Defense—Failure to Comply With Rent Control Ordinance/Tenant Protection Act (revised)
  1. Affirmative Defense—Tenant Was Victim of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking, Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse, or Human Trafficking (Code Civ. Proc., § 1161.3) (revised)
  2. Statutory Damages on Showing of Malice (Code Civ. Proc., § 1174(b)) (revised)


  1. Right to Repair Act—Affirmative Defense—Plaintiff’s Subsequent Acts or Omissions (Civ. Code, § 945.5(d)) (revised)
  2. Right to Repair Act—Affirmative Defense—Failure to Follow Recommendations or to Maintain (Civ. Code, § 945.5(c)) (revised)


  1. Whistleblower Protection—Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1102.5) (revised)

VF-4602. Whistleblower Protection—Affirmative Defense of Same Decision (Lab. Code, §§ 1102.5, 1102.6) (revised)


  1. Wrongful Foreclosure—Essential Factual Elements (new)
  2. Wrongful Foreclosure—Tender Excused (new)


  1. Witnesses (revised)
  2. Multiple Parties (revised)

Additional instructions and verdict forms in this supplement have editorial changes to pronouns and secondary sources.

Guide for Using Judicial Council of
California Civil Jury Instructions

Ease of understanding by jurors, without sacrificing accuracy, is the primary goal of these Judicial Council instructions. A secondary goal is ease of use by lawyers. This guide provides an introduction to the instructions, explaining conventions and features that will assist in the use of both the print and electronic editions.

Jury Instructions as a Statement of the Law: While jury instructions are not a primary source of the law, they are a statement or compendium of the law, a secondary source. That the instructions are in plain English does not change their status as an accurate statement of the law.

Instructions Approved by Rule of Court:
Rule 2.1050 of the California Rules of Court provides: “The California jury instructions approved by the Judicial Council are the official instructions for use in the state of California . . . The Judicial Council endorses these instructions for use and makes every effort to ensure that they accurately state existing law . . . Use of the Judicial Council instructions is strongly encouraged.” Absence of Instruction: The fact that there is no CACI instruction on a claim, defense, rule, or other situation does not indicate that no instruction would ever be appropriate.

Using the Instructions

Revision Dates: The original date of approval and all revision dates of each instruction are presented. An instruction is considered as having been revised if there is a nontechnical change to the title, instruction text, or Directions for Use. Additions or changes to the Sources and Authority and Secondary Sources do not generate a new revision date.

Directions for Use: The instructions contain Directions for Use. The directions alert the user to special circumstances involving the instruction and may include references to other instructions that should or should not be used. In some cases the directions include suggestions for modifications or for additional instructions that may be required. Before using any instruction, reference should be made to the Directions for Use.

Sources and Authority: Each instruction sets forth the primary sources that present the basic legal principles that support the instruction. Applicable statutes are listed along with quoted material from cases that pertain to the subject matter of the instruction. Authorities are included to support the text of the instruction, the burden of proof, and matters of law and of fact.

Cases included in the Sources and Authority should be treated as a digest of relevant citations. They are not meant to provide a complete analysis of the legal subject of the instruction. Nor does the inclusion of an excerpt necessarily mean that the committee views it as binding authority. Rather, they provide a starting point for further legal 1 research on the subject. The standard is that the committee believes that the excerpt would be of interest and relevant to CACI users.

Secondary Sources are also provided for treatises and practice guides from a variety of legal publishers.

Instructions for the Common Case: These instructions were drafted for the common type of case and can be used as drafted in most cases. When unique or complex circumstances prevail, users will have to adapt the instructions to the particular case.

Multiple Parties: Because jurors more easily understand instructions that refer to parties by name rather than by legal terms such as “plaintiff” and “defendant,” the instructions provide for insertion of names. For simplicity of presentation, the instructions use single party plaintiffs and defendants as examples. If a case involves multiple parties or cross-complaints, the user will usually need to modify the parties in the instructions. Rather than naming a number of parties in each place calling for names, the user may consider putting the names of all applicable parties in the beginning and thereafter identifying them as “plaintiffs,” “defendants,” “cross­complaints,” etc. Different instructions often apply to different parties. The user should only include the parties to whom each instruction applies.

Personal Pronouns: Many CACI instructions include an option to insert the personal pronouns “he/she/nonbinary pronoun,” “his/her/nonbinary pronoun,” or “him/her/ nonbinary pronoun.” It is the policy of the State of California that intersex, transgender, and nonbinary people are entitled to full legal recognition and equal treatment under the law. In accordance with this policy, attorneys and courts should take affirmative steps to ensure that they are using individuals’ correct personal pronouns. Although the advisory committee acknowledges a trend for the use of “they,” “their,” and “them” as singular personal pronouns, the committee also recognizes these same pronouns have plural denotations with the potential to confuse jurors. For clarity in the jury instructions, the committee recommends using an individual’s name rather than a personal nonbinary pronoun (such as “they”) if the pronoun’s use could result in confusion.

Reference to “Harm” in Place of “Damage” or “Injury”: In many of the instructions, the word harm is used in place of damage, injury, or other similar words. The drafters of the instructions felt that this word was clearer to jurors.

Substantial Factor: The instructions frequently use the term “substantial factor” to state the element of causation, rather than referring to “cause” and then defining that term in a separate instruction as a “substantial factor.” An instruction that defines “substantial factor” is located in the Negligence series. The use of the instruction is not intended to be limited to cases involving negligence.

Listing of Elements and Factors: For ease of understanding, elements of causes of action or affirmative defenses are listed by numbers (e.g., 1, 2, 3) and factors to be considered by jurors in their deliberations are listed by letters (e.g., a, b, c).

Uncontested Elements: Although some elements may be the subject of a stipulation
that the element has been proven, the instruction should set forth all of the elements and

indicate those that are deemed to have been proven by stipulation of the parties. Omitting uncontested elements may leave the jury with an incomplete understanding of the cause of action and the plaintiff’s full burden of proof. It is better to include all the elements and then indicate the parties have agreed that one or more of them has been established and need not be decided by the jury. One possible approach is as follows:

To establish this claim, [plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

  1. That [plaintiff] and [defendant] entered into a contract (which is not disputed in this case);
  2. That [plaintiff] did all, or substantially all, of the significant things that the contract required it to do;
  3. That all conditions required for [defendant]’s performance had occurred (which is also not disputed in this case).

Irrelevant Factors: Factors are matters that the jury might consider in determining whether a party’s burden of proof on the elements has been met. A list of possible factors may include some that have no relevance to the case and on which no evidence was presented. These irrelevant factors may safely be omitted from the instruction.

Burdens of Proof: The applicable burden of proof is included within each instruction explaining a cause of action or affirmative defense. The drafters felt that placing the burden of proof in that position provided a clearer explanation for the jurors.

Affirmative Defenses: For ease of understanding by users, all instructions explaining affirmative defenses use the term “affirmative defense” in the title.

Titles and Definitions

Titles of Instructions: Titles to instructions are directed to lawyers and sometimes use words and phrases not used in the instructions themselves. Since the title is not a part of the instruction, the titles may be removed before presentation to the jury.

Definitions of Legal Terms: The instructions avoid separate definitions of legal terms whenever possible. Instead, definitions have been incorporated into the language of the instructions. In some instances (e.g., specific statutory definitions) it was not possible to avoid providing a separate definition.


Circumstantial Evidence: The words “indirect evidence” have been substituted for the expression “circumstantial evidence.” In response to public comment on the subject, however, the drafters added a sentence indicating that indirect evidence is sometimes known as circumstantial evidence.

Preponderance of the Evidence: To simplify the instructions’ language, the drafters avoided the phrase preponderance of the evidence and the verb preponderate. The instructions substitute in place of that phrase reference to evidence that is “more likely to be true than not true.”

Using Verdict Forms

Verdict Forms are Models: A large selection of special verdict forms accompanies the instructions. Users of the forms must bear in mind that these are models only. Rarely can they be used without modifications to fit the circumstances of a particular case.


Purpose of Verdict Forms: The special verdict forms generally track the elements of the applicable cause of action. Their purpose is to obtain the jury’s finding on the elements defined in the instructions. “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; see Trujillo v. North County Transit Dist. (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 280, 285 [73 Cal.Rptr.2d 596].) Modifi­cations made to the instructions in particular cases ordinarily will require corresponding modifications to the special verdict form.

Multiple Parties: The verdict forms have been written to address one plaintiff against one defendant. In nearly all cases involving multiple parties, the issues and the evidence will be such that the jury could reach different results for different parties. The liability of each defendant should always be evaluated individually, and the damages to be awarded to each plaintiff must usually be determined separately. Therefore, separate special verdicts should usually be prepared for each plaintiff with regard to each defendant. In some cases, the facts may be sufficiently simple to include multiple parties in the same verdict form, but if this is done, the transitional language from one question to another must be modified to account for all the different possibilities of yes and no answers for the various parties.

Multiple Causes of Action: The verdict forms are self-contained for a particular cause of action. When multiple causes of action are being submitted to the jury, it may be better to combine the verdict forms and eliminate duplication.

Modifications as Required by Circumstances: The verdict forms must be modified as required by the circumstances. It is necessary to determine whether any lesser or greater specificity is appropriate. The question in special verdict forms for plaintiff’s damages provides an illustration. Consistent with the jury instructions, the question asks the jury to determine separately the amounts of past and future economic loss, and of past and future noneconomic loss. These four choices are included in brackets. In some cases it may be unnecessary to distinguish between past and future losses. In others there may be no claim for either economic or noneconomic damages. In some cases the court may wish to eliminate the terms “economic loss” and “noneconomic loss” from both the instructions and the verdict form. Without defining those terms, the court may prefer simply to ask the jury to determine the appropriate amounts for the various components of the losses without categorizing them for the jury as economic or noneconomic. The court can fix liability as joint or several under Civil Code sections 1431 and 1431.2, based on the verdicts. A more itemized breakdown of damages may be appropriate if the court is concerned about the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a particular component of damages. Appropriate special verdicts are preferred when periodic payment schedules may be required by Code of Civil Procedure section 667.7. (Gorman v. Leftwich (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 141, 148-150 [266 Cal. Rptr. 671].)

May 2020

Hon. Martin J. Tangeman

Chair, Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions.