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AMI 203 Issues—Claim for Damages Based on Negligence—Burden of Proof

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 203
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
November 2021 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 2. Issues and Burden of Proof
AMI 203 Issues—Claim for Damages Based on Negligence—Burden of Proof
(Plaintiff) claims damages from (defendant) and has the burden of proving each of three essential propositions:
First, that [he][she][it] has sustained damages;
Second, that (defendant)[and , or one of them,] was negligent;
And third, that such negligence was a proximate cause of (plaintiff)'s damages.
[If you find from the evidence in this case that each of these propositions has been proved, then your verdict should be for (plaintiff) (against the party or parties found to be negligent); but if, on the other hand, you find from the evidence that any of these propositions has not been proved, then your verdict should be for (defendant)].
NOTE ON USE
Use the bracketed portion of paragraph “Second” only when the plaintiff claims damages from alleged joint tortfeasors.
Do not use the final bracketed paragraph when affirmative defenses such as negligence of the claimant are in issue. See AMI 206.
In multi-party cases or in cases involving liability based upon alleged misconduct other than negligence, use AMI 205.
Do not use the final bracketed paragraph when the case is submitted on interrogatories.
In cases involving a complaint by a plaintiff against a defendant who has asserted a counterclaim, use AMI 204.
COMMENT
This instruction has been cited with approval in Schaeffer v. McGhee, 286 Ark. 113, 115, 689 S.W.2d 537, 538 (1985); and Dovers v. Stephenson Oil Co., 354 Ark. 695, 704, 128 S.W.3d 805, 810–811 (2003); and held to be a correct statement of the law in Blankenship v. Burnett, 304 Ark. 469, 472, 803 S.W.2d 539, 541 (1991).
In 2003, Ark. Code Ann. § 16-55-202 was amended to provide that with respect to all affected causes of action accruing on or after March 25, 2003, the fault of non-parties can be considered in assessing percentages of fault when either the plaintiff has entered into a settlement agreement with a non-party or when a defendant files the statutory 120-day notice prior to trial that a non-party was wholly or partially at fault. In Johnson v. Rockwell Automation, Inc., 2009 Ark. 241, 308 S.W.3d 135, however, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Ark. Code Ann. § 16-55-202 contravenes the separation of powers provisions of the Arkansas Constitution, Article 4, § 2 and Amendment 80, § 3, by effectively establishing a procedure for litigating the fault of non-parties “that conflicts with our ‘rules of pleadings, practice and procedure.’” Johnson, supra, 2009 Ark. 241, at 6 (quoting Amendment 80, § 3). The court held both subsections 202(a) and (b) unconstitutional. Id. at 8. See also McCoy v. Augusta Fiberglass Coatings, Inc., 593 F.3d 737, 743–44 (8th Cir. 2010) (ruling that Johnson mooted claim to apportionment of fault to non-party because law reverted to what it was before passage of 2003 amendment to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-55-202). The Note on Use to this Instruction has been modified accordingly to delete reference to assignment of fault to non-parties under Ark. Code Ann. § 16-55-202.
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