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WPI 300.00 Introduction

6A WAPRAC WPI 300.00Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil

6A Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 300.00 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
April 2022 Update
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part XIII. Contracts
Chapter 300. Contracts—Issues—Burden of Proof
WPI 300.00 Introduction
The subject of contracts is necessarily broad. The WPI Committee has drafted pattern instructions that address some of the more common issues in this broad field.
The instructions in Part XIII are designed for use in non-Uniform Commercial Code cases. For Uniform Commercial Code cases, see RCW Title 62A, and particularly the Washington Comments set forth in the RCW Annotated. Employment issues are addressed separately in WPI Part XVI (Employment). Consumer protection issues are addressed in WPI Part XIV (Consumer Protection).
Broad instructions on the issues and on burden of proof are set forth in WPI Chapter 300. These instructions are designed for a breach of contract action for damages, with and without affirmative defenses. The remaining wide variety of types of contract actions are addressed in the skeletal format of WPI 300.01.01 (Issues—Contract—Alternative).
Issues of contract formation, interpretation, and enforcement are addressed in WPI Chapter 301. The WPI Committee has elected not to address a number of specific contract formation issues in the form of pattern instructions because such issues are rarely presented for jury resolution. A number of bases for the equitable remedy of rescission, such as mutual or unilateral mistake, or undue influence, may also be asserted as defenses to contract enforcement, and it is in this context that the WPI Committee felt they would be most likely to reach a jury.
Equitable alternative remedies are presented separately in WPI Chapter 301A. Although the role of the jury with respect to these issues may be different from the jury's role as fact finder in a strictly legal breach of contract cause of action, as a practical matter these issues are often presented to juries together with, and as alternatives to, legal claims.
Some of the more common issues related to performance of contractual duties, excuses for nonperformance, and breaches of contract are addressed in WPI Chapter 302. These instructions are drafted for the context in which they are most likely to arise in a breach of contract action. For example, defenses that, if established, would either relieve or discharge a defendant's duty of performance are labeled “excuse of performance,” even though they may also be raised in a number of different procedural postures.
The chapter on remedies, WPI Chapter 303, focuses on the action for damages for breach of contract, because that is the legal remedy with which juries are most naturally concerned. The potential advisory role of the jury in making findings that may assist the court in fashioning equitable remedies, however, suggests that it may be necessary in specific cases to develop a number of verdict forms with specific interrogatories.
For comprehensive discussions of non-U.C.C. contract issues in Washington courts, see generally DeWolf, Allen, & Caruso, 25 Washington Practice, Contract Law and Practice (3d ed.).
[Current as of April 2021.]
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