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IV Basic Contract Dispute

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil IV
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
November 2021 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 36. Illustrative Sets of Instructions
IV Basic Contract Dispute
John Smith was solicited by ABC Siding Company, Inc. (“ABC”) to install siding on his home. Smith and ABC verbally agreed that ABC would install siding. ABC then presented a document entitled “Quotation” which Smith signed. The “Quotation” also referred to the installation of windows, a task omitted from the original solicitation. ABC installed the siding but Smith objected when ABC delivered windows for installation, contending that he never agreed to have windows installed. Smith refused to pay ABC any amount, and ABC brought suit against Smith for breach of contract.
A suggested set of instructions in recommended sequence:
1.103.Respective Duties of Judge and Jury—Cautionary Instructions.
2.104.Jury—Personal Observations and Experiences.
3.105.Credibility of Witnesses.
4.108.Circumstantial Evidence.
5.202.Meaning of Burden of Proof and Preponderance of the Evidence.
6.2401.Issues—Breach of Contract.
7.2402.Issues—Contract Formation.
8.2405.Definition—Offer and Acceptance.
10.2407.Definition—Reasonably Certain.
12.2442.Damages—General Rule.
13.3501.Closing Instructions.
Text of Suggested Instructions
1. (AMI 103)
  • (a) The faithful performance of your duties as jurors is essential to the administration of justice.
  • (b) It is my duty as judge to inform you of the law applicable to this case by instructions, and it is your duty to accept and follow them as a whole, not singling out one instruction to the exclusion of others. You should not consider any rule of law with which you may be familiar unless it is included in my instructions.
  • (c) It is your duty to determine the facts from the evidence produced in this trial. You are to apply the law as contained in these instructions to the facts and render your verdict upon the evidence and law. You should not permit sympathy, prejudice, or like or dislike of any party to this action or of any attorney to influence your findings in this case.
  • (d) In deciding the issues, you should consider the testimony of the witnesses and the exhibits received in evidence. The introduction of evidence in court is governed by law. You should accept without question my rulings as to the admissibility or rejection of evidence, drawing no inferences that by these rulings I have in any manner indicated my views on the merits of the case.
  • (e) Opening statements, remarks during the trial, and closing arguments of the attorneys are not evidence but are made only to help you in understanding the evidence and applicable law. Any argument, statements, or remarks of attorneys having no basis in the evidence should be disregarded by you. However, an admission of fact by an attorney is binding on his or her client.
  • (f) I have not intended by anything I have said or done, or by any questions that I may have asked, to intimate or suggest what you should find to be the facts, or that I believe or disbelieve any witness who testified. If anything that I have done or said has seemed to so indicate, you will disregard it.
2. (AMI 104)
In considering the evidence in this case you are not required to set aside your common knowledge, but you have a right to consider all the evidence in the light of your own observations and experiences in the affairs of life.
3. (AMI 105)
You are the sole judges of the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses. In determining the credibility of any witness and the weight to be given his testimony, you may take into consideration his demeanor while on the witness stand, any prejudice for or against a party, his means of acquiring knowledge concerning any matter to which he testified, any interest he may have in the outcome of the case, and the consistency or inconsistency of his testimony, as well as its reasonableness or unreasonableness.
4. (AMI 108)
A fact in dispute may be proved by circumstantial evidence as well as by direct evidence. A fact is established by direct evidence when, for example, it is proved by witnesses who testify to what they saw, heard, or experienced. A fact is established by circumstantial evidence when its existence can reasonably be inferred from other facts proved in the case.
5. (AMI 202)
A party who has the burden of proof on a proposition must establish it by a preponderance of the evidence, unless the proposition is so established by other proof in the case. “Preponderance of the evidence” means the greater weight of evidence. The greater weight of evidence is not necessarily established by the greater number of witnesses testifying to any fact or state of facts. It is the evidence which, when weighed with that opposed to it, has more convincing force and is more probably true and accurate. If, upon any issue in the case, the evidence appears to be equally balanced, or if you cannot say upon which side it weighs heavier, you must resolve that question against the party who has the burden of proving it.
6. (AMI 2401)
ABC claims that Mr. Smith breached a contract and has the burden of proving each of four essential propositions:
  • First, that ABC and Mr. Smith entered into a contract;
  • Second, that the contract required Mr. Smith to perform or not to perform a certain act;
  • Third, that ABC did what the contract required of it; and
  • Fourth, that Mr. Smith did not do what the contract required of him.
If you find that ABC has proved each of these propositions, then your verdict should be for ABC. If, however, ABC has failed to prove any one or more of these propositions, then your verdict should be for Mr. Smith.
7. (AMI 2402)
To establish a contract, ABC has the burden of proving each of three essential propositions:
  • First, that ABC made an offer to enter into a contract that was accepted by Mr. Smith;
  • Second, that there was an exchange of consideration; and
  • Third, that at the time the contract was made, its essential terms were reasonably certain and agreed to by both ABC and Mr. Smith.
8. (AMI 2405)
When I use the word “offer,” I mean a proposal to enter into a contract that invites acceptance by the party to whom it is directed. An offer must be communicated by words or conduct to the other party.
A party “accepts” an offer when he demonstrates his unconditional agreement to the terms of the offer. “Acceptance” may reasonably be implied from words or conduct, and it must occur before the offer is withdrawn or lapses.
9. (AMI 2406)
When I use the term “consideration,” I mean something of value that must be bargained for and given in exchange for a promise.
“Something of value” may consist of a promise—such as a promise to pay money or to perform a service or to deliver goods; an act—such as the payment of money, the delivery of goods or the performance of services; or a forbearance—such as giving up the right to use, the right to compete, or the right to perform a certain act.
10. (AMI 2407)
When I say the contract's essential terms must be “reasonably certain,” I mean that the terms must provide a basis for determining the existence of a breach and for giving an appropriate remedy.
11. (AMI 2427)
The parties dispute whether Mr. Smith did what the contract required of him. A party's failure to do what the contract required of him is a “breach” of the contract.
12. (AMI 2442)
If you decide for ABC on the question of liability, you must then fix the amount of money that ABC proved will reasonably and fairly compensate it for the element of damage resulting from Mr. Smith's breach of the contract. In order to fairly compensate ABC, any award should put ABC in no better position than it would have been in if both ABC and Mr. Smith had performed all of their promises under the contract.
The element of damage that ABC claims is:
The amount, if any, which you find Mr. Smith contracted to pay to ABC.
Whether this element of damage has been proved by the evidence is for you to determine.
13. (AMI 3501)
You have now heard all the evidence and the instructions on the law you must apply in reaching your verdict. You soon will hear the lawyers’' closing arguments and then go to the jury room to decide this case. I have a few final instructions for you on how to proceed.
(a) Remember that you are to decide this case fairly, based only on the evidence presented in this courtroom and the law as instructed by me. Do not consider information from any other source. And do not allow sympathy, prejudice, or like or dislike of any party or any attorney in this case to influence your decision. Keep in mind that the Basic Rule I have explained to you throughout the trial continues to apply during your deliberations: You are to discuss the case only among yourselves. Do not communicate about this case and the places and persons involved by any means whatsoever with anyone else at all, or look for or receive any information whatsoever about this case—including through Electronic Devices—other than the evidence in this courtroom and the law as I have instructed you, until your jury duty is complete and I have discharged you.
(b) Any notes you may have taken during the trial may be taken to the jury room to use during your deliberations. Your notes are simply an aid to your own memory, and neither your notes nor those of any other juror are a substitute for your own memory or other jurors’' memory. Leave your notes in the jury room when you have concluded your deliberations.
(c) Do not begin deliberations until all of you are assembled in the jury room. Once you are all there, the first thing for you to do is to elect one of you to act as foreperson during your deliberations. The foreperson should see to it that your discussions are orderly and that every one of you has a fair opportunity to be heard.
(d) If any of you needs to communicate with me for any reason, write me a note and give it to (the bailiff) (court personnel). In your note do not disclose any vote or division among yourselves.
At least nine of you must agree to arrive at a verdict.
If your verdict is unanimous, only the foreperson will sign your verdict form.
If your verdict is not unanimous, but nine or more of you agree on the verdict, then each of you who agrees must sign the verdict form. Those of you who do not agree must not sign the verdict form.
We, the Jury find in favor of ABC Siding Company, Inc., the plaintiff, and against John Smith, the defendant, and award damages in the following amount:
We, the Jury find in favor of John Smith, the defendant, and against, ABC Siding Company, Inc., the plaintiff.
End of Document