Model Civil Jury Charges Are Amended in Response to Recent Appellate Decisions

According to a March 24 Notice to the Bar that was published today, the Supreme Court Committee on Model Civil Jury Charges has approved a number of revised Model Civil Jury Charges on a number of subjects.  Though all of the changes are important to note, several of the revised charges resulted directly from recent appellate decisions in the affected subject matter areas.

Model Charge 1.18 deals with adverse inferences from a party’s failure to produce evidence.  The charge has been revised in light of Torres v. Pabon, 225 N.J. 167 (2016), which was discussed here.

Model Charge 2.25, which deals with hostile work environment claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, was amended in light of Aguas v. State, 220 N.J. 494 (2015).  The charge now includes factors relevant to an employer’s defense against a claim of vicarious liability for emotional distress damages in hostile work environment cases, which was the subject of Aguas.

Model Charge 5.20F (“Duty Owed- Condition of Premises”) now has a new section regarding the “mode of operation” rule.  That charge was amended in accordance with Prioleau v. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Inc., 223 N.J. 245 (2015), and Walker v. Costco Wholesale Warehouse, 445 N.J. Super. 111 (App. Div. 2016), which elaborated on Prioleau and was discussed here.

Model Charge 6.11, regarding proximate cause, was revised in light of Komlodi v. Picciano, 217 N.J. 387 (2014), which was discussed here.  The charge discusses when it is appropriate to use a “but for” causation charge and when, in contrast, a “substantial factor” test is to be employed.

For completeness, the Notice to the Bar notes four other Model Civil Jury Charges.  Two are new: Model Charge 1.25 is a charge regarding videotaped testimony, for use in cases where such testimony is offered, and Model Charge 5.10J (“Evidence of and Per Se Negligence”) modifies the negligence per se charge already used in automobile negligence cases so that it may be employed in other contexts as well.  The other two are modifications of Model Charges 6.10, regarding proximate cause, and 8.20 (“Medical Expenses- Auto”) for clarity.