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In re Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases-Report No. 16-01

Supreme Court of Florida

April 6, 2017

IN RE: STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CIVIL CASES-REPORT NO. 16-01.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF FILED, DETERMINED.

         Original Proceeding - Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases

          Rebecca Mercier Vargas, Chair, Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, West Palm Beach, Florida; and Laura K. Whitmore, Vice Chair and Subcommittee Chair, Filing Subcommittee of the Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, Tampa, Florida, for Petitioner

          Jennifer Daley on behalf of The Florida Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Chris Kleppin of Glasser & Kleppin, P.A., Plantation, Florida; Robert J. Sniffen, President, Academy of Florida Management Attorneys, Sniffen & Spellman, P.A., Tallahassee, Florida; April Boyer and Yamilet Hurtado of K & L Gates LLP, Miami, Florida; Frank E. Brown, B.C.S., and Amanda L. Neff of the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission, Tallahassee, Florida; and Cathleen Scott, Lindsey Wagner, Deborah S. Baker, Chelsea Bellew, and Michelle T. Murray of Scott Wagner & Associates, P.A., Jupiter, Florida, Responding with Comments

          PER CURIAM.

         The Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases (Committee) has submitted proposed changes to the standard jury instructions and asks that the Court authorize the amended standard instructions for publication and use. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 2(a), Fla. Const.

         The Committee proposes the following new instructions under new Section 417, Unlawful Discrimination, based upon the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA), sections 760.01-760.11, Florida Statutes (2016): 417.1 (Introduction); 417.2 (Summary of Claims and Defenses); 417.3 (Greater Weight of the Evidence); 417.4 (Discrimination-Disparate Treatment); 417.5 (Legal Cause- Discrimination); 417.6 (Legal Cause-Damage); 417.7 (Issues on Plaintiff's Claim); 417.8 (Burden of Proof on Claim); 417.9 (Unlawful Discrimination Damages); 417.10 (Affirmative Defense-Failure to Mitigate Lost Wages); 417.11 (Affirmative Defense-After-Acquired Evidence); and 417.12 (Reduction of Damages to Present Value). Following publication by the Court, the Court received comments from the Academy of Florida Management Attorneys, April Boyer, Esq., Frank E. Brown, B.C.S., and Amanda L. Neff, Esq., the Florida Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association, Chris Kleppin, Esq., and Scott Wagner & Associates, P.A.

         The unlawful discrimination instructions are in a format and style consistent to that approved by the Court in 2010 when the Court authorized for publication and use the reorganization of the civil jury instructions. See In re Std. Jury Instr. in Civil Cases-Report No. 09-01 (Reorganization of Civil Jury Instructions), 35 So.3d 666 (Fla. 2010). Having considered the Committee's report, the comments filed with the Court, and the Committee's responses to the comments, we authorize the Committee's proposals for publication and use as set forth in the appendix to this opinion. New language is indicated by underlining. In authorizing the publication and use of these instructions, we express no opinion on their correctness and remind all interested parties that this authorization forecloses neither requesting additional or alternative instructions nor contesting the legal correctness of the instructions. We further caution all interested parties that any comments associated with the instructions reflect only the opinion of the Committee and are not necessarily indicative of the views of this Court as to their correctness or applicability. The instructions as set forth in the appendix shall become effective when this opinion becomes final.

         It is so ordered.

          LABARGA, CJ, and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, CANADY, POLSTON, and LAWSON, JJ, concur

         APPENDIX

         417 UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION

         417.1 Introduction

         417.2 Summary of Claims and Defenses

         417.3 Greater Weight of the Evidence

         417.4 Discrimination - Disparate Treatment

         417.5 Legal Cause - Discrimination

         417.6 Legal Cause - Damage

         417.7 Issues on Plaintiff's Claim

         417.8 Burden of Proof on Claim

         417.9 Unlawful Discrimination Damages

         417.10 Affirmative Defense - Failure to Mitigate Lost Wages

         417.11 Affirmative Defense - After-Acquired Evidence

         417.12 Reduction of Damages to Present Value

         NOTES ON USE

         The instructions in this section are based upon the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA), which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate based upon race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. F.S. 760.01-760.11.

         417.1 INTRODUCTION

         Members of the jury, you have now heard and received all of the evidence in this case. I am now going to tell you about the rules of law that you must use in reaching your verdict. [You will recall at the beginning of the case I told you that if, at the end of the case I decided that different law applies, I would tell you so. These instructions are (slightly) different from what I gave you at the beginning, and it is these rules of law that you must now follow.] When I finish telling you about the rules of law, the attorneys will present their final arguments and you will then retire to decide your verdict.

         NOTES ON USE FOR 417.1

         1. When instructing the jury before taking evidence, use instruction 202.1 in lieu of instruction 417.1. See Model Instruction 1. Instruction 417.1 is for instructing the jury after the evidence has been concluded. Use the bracketed language in instruction 417.1 when the final instructions are different from the instructions given at the beginning of the case. If the instructions at the end of the case are different from those given at the beginning of the case, the committee recommends that the court point out the differences with appropriate language in the final instructions, including an explanation for the difference, such as when the court has directed a verdict on an issue.

         2. Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.470(b) authorizes instructing the jury during trial or before or after final argument. The timing of instructions is within the sound discretion of the trial judge, to be determined on a case-by-case basis, but the committee strongly recommends instructing the jury before final argument.

         3. Each juror must be provided with a full set of jury instructions for use during their deliberations. Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.470(b). The trial judge may find it useful to provide these instructions to the jurors when the judge reads the instructions in open court so that ...


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