Legal Memorandum: Alternative Jury Instructions in MN

Issue: Is it appropriate for the jury be instructed in the alternative?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Alternative jury instructions; Individual claim theory; Total or modified cost method
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 773 F.2d 960
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2013

Eighth District caselaw authority indicates that jury instructions may be presented in the alternative.  E.g., Neb. Pub. Power Dist. v. Austin Power Inc., 773 F.2d 960, 967 (8th Cir. 1985) (explaining that the experienced trial judge who presided over the trial in that case properly submitted the damages issue to the jury in the alternative, instructing them that “if the evidence is sufficient to enable you to estimate with a reasonable degree of certainty the actual damages sustained by [the parties] as a result of any claimed breach,” the jury could calculate damages using the individual claim theory, but that "if no feasible method exists to allocate a specific amount of damage to each breach, the total [or modified] cost method may be used to calculate damages").  


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