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Jury Trial-Verdict and Judgment


After closing arguments have been delivered, and the jury has been instructed, the case is in the hands of the jury. The jury will be led by the judge's bailiff into the jury room where the members of the jury will deliberate.

Regarding jury deliberations, Rule 40(e) provides as follows:

(1) Place. During deliberations, jurors must be kept together in a convenient place in the charge of an officer that the court designates. The court may: (A) permit jurors to separate while not deliberating; or (B) on motion or on its own, require them to be sequestered in the charge of a designated officer when they leave the courtroom or place of deliberation.

(2) Time. Juror deliberations should take place during normal work hours unless the court, after consulting the jury and the parties, determines that: (A) the interests of justice require evening or weekend deliberations; and (B) it will not impose an undue hardship on the jurors.

Ariz. R. Civ. P. 40

Arizona statute provides that “A jury for trial in any court of record of a civil case shall consist of eight persons, and the concurrence of all but two shall be necessary to render a verdict.” A.R.S. § 21-102(C). In other words, you need six of eight jurors, which is 75% of the members of your jury, in order to get a verdict.

The court will dismiss the attorneys and parties while the jury deliberates, which is a process that could take minutes, hours, or days. After it has reached a verdict, the jury will notify the bailiff. The court's staff will then call the attorneys and parties back to the court for the verdict to be read.

This is the moment of truth. 

Here, I will illustrate the different types of verdict that may be delivered. For simplicity, I will assume that the case at issue involves just a single plaintiff and a single defendant. The verdict answers three questions:

1.Does the jury find in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant? 

If the jury finds in favor of the defendant, the analysis is over. The jury has decided that the plaintiff will get nothing. 

If the jury finds in Plaintiff's favor, then the jury will proceed to answer the next two questions.

2. What value does the jury assign to plaintiff's damages?

The jury must write in a dollar amount here. Having heard the evidence, there is no person, or group of people, in the whole world better able to carry out the jury's solemn duty to here decide the value of the plaintiff's suffering. The jury will have already been instructed by the judge as follows: 

[Y]ou must . . . decide the full amount of money that will reasonably and fairly compensate the plaintiff for each of the following elements of damages proved by the evidence to have resulted from the fault of the defendant:

1. The nature, extent, and duration of the injury.

2. The pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future as a result of the injury.

3. Reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, treatment, and services rendered, and reasonably probable to be incurred in the future.

4. Lost earnings to date, and any decrease in earning power or capacity in the future.

5. Loss of love, care, affection, companionship, and other pleasures of the plaintiff's [familial] relationship.

6. Loss of enjoyment of life, that is, the participation in life's activities to the quality and extent normally enjoyed before the injury.

In some cases, the jury may determine that there is comparative fault. A comparative fault case is one with a claim by any party that someone other than, or as well as, a single defendant is at fault. That “someone” could be a plaintiff, other defendant, or properly noticed nonparty. A.R.S. § 12-2506(B) and (C). RAJI (Civil) FI 5 (5th ed.). In a comparative fault case, the jury will proceed to answer the question below.

3.What are the relative degrees of fault?

If comparative fault is at issue in the case, then the jury will be instructed as follows:

[If you decide that [name of plaintiff]'s fault should reduce [name of plaintiff]' damages] [or] [If you find more than one [defendant] [person] at fault for [name of plaintiff]'s injury], you must then determine the relative degrees of fault of all those whom you find to have been at fault.

The relative degrees of fault are to be entered on the verdict form as percentages of the total fault for [name of plaintiff]'s injury.

The fault of one person may be greater or lesser than that of another, but the relative degrees of all fault must add up to 100%. This will be clear from the verdict form.

RAJI (Civil) FI 11 (5th ed.)

A defendant will ultimately only be held liable for the product of his or her percentage of fault multiplied by the total amount of the plaintiff's damages. Therefore, as to any fault that may be apportioned to the plaintiff or any other persons, the defendant will not be liable for those damages.

Generally, there are three types of verdicts that can be delivered in a personal injury case. They are as follows:


We, the Jury, duly empaneled and sworn in the above-entitled action, upon our oaths, do find in favor of plaintiff (insert name of plaintiff) and find the full damages to be $____________.


We, the Jury, duly empaneled and sworn in the above-entitled action, upon our oaths, do find in favor of plaintiff (insert name of plaintiff) and find the full damages to be $____________.

We find the relative degrees of fault to be:

Plaintiff _____%

Defendant _____%

Total       100%


We, the Jury, duly empaneled and sworn in the above-entitled action, upon our oaths, do find in favor of the defendant.


After the jury enters a verdict, there is still more work to be done. A judgment is not the same thing as a verdict. A judgment is a decree or an order from the court. A judgment can be appealed or enforced. A verdict, by comparison, is a statement by the jury. It cannot be appealed or enforced as such. After a verdict is obtained, the prevailing party will ordinarily move the judge to enter a judgment based upon the verdict.

Generally, the judgment that is ultimately entered will include the amount of damages as reflected by the jury's verdict as well as additional amounts including taxable or other costs, and sometimes an award of attorney's fees, interest, and sanctions. The prevailing party is generally entitled to an award of its “taxable costs,” which include things like filing fees, service of process fees, court reporter transcripts. Attorney's fees are generally not recoverable in personal injury cases, but there are exceptions–sometimes involving first party claims between insurance companies and their insureds. Sanctions could be in play if a party obtains a result at trial that is more favorable than a qualifying “offer of judgment” that the party allowed to be entered against itself pursuant to Rule 68 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Sanctions could also be in play if one of the parties appealed the result of a compulsory arbitration held pursuant to Rule 77 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and then failed to improve its result at trial by at least 23%. 

As a practical matter, many cases that proceed through to verdict will get settled prior to the entry of judgment unless one or more of the parties intends to file an appeal or unless there are substantial sanctions in dispute or a potential award of attorneys' fees.

In the vast majority of personal injury cases that get to this point, collecting on the judgment is not an issue that the plaintiff needs to be concerned about because the defendant is usually either a person or entity with substantial assets or the defendant is covered by adequate insurance. However, in some cases, judgment collection is an issue. The plaintiff certainly needs to be mindful of the defendant's collectibility as the case proceeds. If you do not have a readily collectible defendant, then obtaining a judgment and enforcing a judgment are two very different things, and they require very different legal skill sets. Therefore, if you anticipate that judgment collection will be an issue in your case, I recommend early consultation with an attorney that you can turn to for assistance with enforcement of the judgment once it is obtained. 

The philosophies, strategies, and tactics I've outlined above are the principles that guide our actions at Cluff Injury Lawyers. I've outlined them pedagogically to help anyone who wants to better understand these principles or improve their skills in utilizing them. 

Author: Brigham Cluff

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