The Florida Bar

Civil Jury Instructions

Section 100 — Oaths

Instruction for all Oaths

  • 101.1 Oath of Jurors Before Voir Dire
  • 101.2 Oath of Jurors After Voir Dire
  • 101.3 Oath of a Witness
  • 101.4 Oath of an Interpreter

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Section 200 — Preliminary Instructions

Qualification Instructions; revised December 4, 2014

A. During Jury Selection

B. After Jury Selected and Sworn

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Section 400 — Substantive Instructions

NOTE ON USE

These substantive instructions should be followed by the applicable sections from Damages, Substantive Instructions — General, and Closing Instructions (Before Final Argument).

402 Professional Negligence

NOTES ON USE

  1. Professional negligence claims are, for the most part, similar. The committee has, therefore, included all such claims in a single section. There are, however, some specific instructions that deal with issues unique to certain professions, such as instruction 402.4(d) (missing medical records) and instruction 402.12 (issues involved in certain legal malpractice claims). For cases involving allegations of negligence of professions other than medical or legal, instructions 402.11(a) and (b) and 402.12(a) and (b) should be appropriately modified.
  2. If a professional malpractice case involves a claim of product defect, jury instructions for such claims should be adopted from the applicable sections of this book.

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405 Defamation

The Committee removed earlier published defamation instructions because portions of them were no longer accurate statements of law. The Committee will consider bringing forth a revised set of instructions in the future. (Deleted November 19, 2021.)

412 Contribution Among Tortfeasors

NOTES ON USE

  1. A claim for contribution can be presented as a cross-claim in an injured party’s case or as an independent action. These instructions cover both types of claims. Instruction 412.1 deals with cross-claims in an injured party’s case and instruction 412.2 deals with third-party claims in an injured party’s action. These instructions are in proper form for use in negligence actions. If contribution is found to be appropriate in tort actions other than for negligence (but see the title to Ch. 75-198, Laws of Fla.), the instructions should be revised as necessary.
  2. The instructions for an independent action for contribution begin with instruction 412.3.
  3. Whether the contribution claim is a cross-claim, a third party action or an independent claim, it should be submitted to the jury with a form of special verdict by which the jury determines the relative degrees of fault of the defendants and any third party (see, for example, Model Instruction No. 6).

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415 UNLAWFUL RETALIATION

NOTE ON USE 

The instructions in this section are based upon F.S. 448.101–105 (Florida’s private-sector whistle-blower provisions). As to the right to trial by jury, see Fox v. City of Pompano Beach, 984 So. 2d 664 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), and O’Neal v. Fla. A & M University, 989 So. 2d 6 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008) (right to jury trial pursuant to the  Whistle-blower Act, F.S. 112.3187-31895); Rodriguez v. Casson-Mark Corp., 2008 WL 2949520  (M.D. Fla. July 28, 2008) (right to jury trial pursuant to the private-sector whistle-blower’s provisions, F.S. 448.101-105).

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417 Unlawful Discrimination

418 Unlawful Retaliation Under Florida's Public Sector Whistle-Blower Act

420 Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

NOTES ON USE 

The tort of “negligent infliction of emotional distress” is recognized in Florida. Champion v. Gray, 478 So. 2d 17 (Fla. 1985); Zell v. Meek, 665 So. 2d 1048 (Fla. 1995). The boundaries of this cause of action, the persons who may recover, and the relationships that form the basis of recovery will be established by the courts of this state on a case-by-case basis. Champion, at 21–22 (Alderman, J., concurring specially). These instructions should not be given if the plaintiff suffered an impact of any type. See generally Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC, 967 So. 2d 846, 850 (Fla. 2007). The essence of impact is that the “outside force or substance, no matter how large or small, visible or invisible, and no matter that the effects are not immediately deleterious, touch or enter into the plaintiff’s body.” Id. If there was an impact, the jury instructions given would be governed by the principles for the type of tort involved and the resulting damages.

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Section 500 Damages

A. Compensatory Damages

1. Personal Injury and Property Damages

2. Wrongful Death Damages

B. Punitive Damages

NOTE ON USE

Effective October 1, 1999, F.S. 768.735 changed the common law of punitive damages. These instructions are intended to comply with those statutory provisions.  For instructions applicable to causes of action arising prior to October 1, 1999, see Appendix C to this book.

These instructions are intended for use in the majority of punitive damages cases with causes of action arising on or after October 1, 1999. They may not be applicable in cases involving a defendant acting under the influence of drugs or alcohol. See F.S. 768.736 (1999). Likewise, these instructions may not be applicable in cases involving child abuse, abuse of the elderly, or abuse of the developmentally disabled, or any civil action arising under F.S. Chapter 400. See F.S. 768.735 (1999).

Under certain circumstances, an additional instruction may be required regarding the upper limit on the amount of punitive damages. See Wransky v. Dalfo, 801 So.2d 239 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).

Upon timely motion, a demand for punitive damages and determination of the issues raised by such a demand must be submitted to the jury under the bifurcated procedure established in W.R. Grace & Co. v. Waters, 638 So.2d 502 (Fla. 1994). Instruction 503.1 is intended to comply with the required bifurcated procedure. Absent a timely motion, punitive damage issues will be decided under a non-bifurcated procedure, as provided in 503.2.

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Section 700 — Closing Instructions

700 Closing Instructions

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Appendix A: Model Jury Instructions

Summary

The following Model Jury Instructions are included to illustrate the use of Florida Standard Jury Instructions. The hypothetical facts upon which each instruction is based are set forth before the instruction. The committee made arbitrary decisions about various factors involved in each hypothetical case, and the Model Instructions are not intended to be incorporated entirely into a court’s instruction.

The numbers of the instructions used in the examples are indicated within brackets. In instances in which changes have been made to adapt the standard instructions to the circumstances of the hypothetical case, the committee has italicized the instructions.

These Model Instructions are provided only as examples of how the instructions are intended to be used. Revisions in the Model Instructions often lag some time behind revisions in the substantive charges the use of which is illustrated in the Model Instructions. DO NOT, therefore, rely on the Model Instructions for correct wording when preparing instructions. Always refer to the standard instructions and forms provided in Parts I through VIII.

  • Model Instruction No. 1: Automobile collision; comparative negligence; single claimant and defendant; no counterclaim; no-fault issue; witnesses testifying in foreign language; instructions for beginning and end of case; use of special verdict in burden of proof and damage instructions (revised January 23, 2020)
  • Model Instruction No. 2: Automobile collision; driver’s comparative negligence including failure to wear seat belt; aggravation of pre-existing injury; multiple events (revised January 23, 2020)
  • Model Instruction No. 3: Automobile collision; comparative negligence; wrongful death damages; Fabre issue (revised January 23, 2020)
  • Model Instruction No. 4: Automobile collision; comparative negligence; claim and counterclaim (revised January 23, 2020)
  • Model Instruction No. 5: Injury in three-car collision; settlement with injured party by one tortfeasor; independent contribution claim by him against others; reasonableness of settlement as well as liability contested (revised February 1, 2018)
  • Model Instruction No. 6: Claimant suing three alleged joint tortfeasors; comparative negligence in issue; contribution shares to be determined in action (revised January 23, 2020)
  • Model Instruction No. 7: Product liability case; negligence and strict liability claims; comparative negligence defense; aggravation of pre-existing injury

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Appendix B: Verdict Forms

The following Model Verdict forms are included as examples of how issues can be submitted to the jury. They may be changed on a case-by-case basis depending on the rulings and facts in a particular case.

Historically, a general verdict on compensatory damages was considered appropriate, and that is the only form of verdict provided in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fla.R.Civ.P. Form 1.986(a). However, with the advent of special verdicts and bifurcation of issues, it is now common for cases to be submitted to the jury with a special verdict. The committee has therefore drafted the following special verdict forms. None of the following are complete verdicts and in some instances more than one of these forms might apply.

Form of verdict itemizing damages introductory comment

Appendix B Form 1. Model form of verdict for general negligence with apportionment of fault

Appendix B Form 1.5. Model form of verdict for general negligence with apportionment of fault — Cases Applying Section 9, Chapter 2023-15; adopted June 19, 2024

Appendix B Form 2. Damages — Introductory Comment

Appendix B Form 2(a). Model form of verdict for personal injury damages

Appendix B Form 2(b). Model form of verdict for wrongful death damages

Appendix B Form 3(a). Model form of verdict for bifurcated punitive damage cases

Appendix B Form 3(b). Model form of verdict for non-bifurcated punitive damage cases

Appendix B Form 4. Model form of verdict for statute of limitations defense in a medical negligence case

Appendix B Form 5(a). Model form of verdict for emergency medical treatment; no issue as to the applicability of F.S. 768.13(2)(b)

Appendix B Form 5(b). Model form of verdict for emergency medical treatment; issue as to the applicability of F.S. 768.13(2)(b); no issue as to comparative negligence

Appendix B Form 5(c). Model form of verdict for emergency medical treatment; issues as to both applicability of F.S. 768.13(2)(b) and comparative negligence

Appendix B Form 6. Model form of verdict for personal injury protection insurance benefits (PIP) (medical benefits only)

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Appendix C

Appendix C – Punitive Damage Instructions for causes of action arising prior to October 1, 1999. Revised March 2, 2023

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Appendix E

Appendix E – 402.16. 402.16 Emergency Medical Treatment Claims Instructions for Causes of Action Arising Prior to September 15, 2003

Appendix E – 402.16(a). Emergency Medical Treatment—Jury Issue As To Application Of F.S. 768.13(2)(b)

Appendix E – 402.16(b). Emergency Medical Treatment

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