Rule 49 – Special verdict; general verdict and questions
(through July 14, 2022)
(a) Special Verdict. (1) In General. The court may require a jury to return only a special verdict in the form of a special written finding on each issue of fact. The court may do so by: (A) submitting written questions susceptible of a categorical or other brief answer; (B) submitting written forms of the special findings that might properly be made under the pleadings and evidence; or (C) using any other method that the court considers appropriate. (2) Instructions. The court must give the instructions and explanations necessary to enable the jury to make its findings on each submitted issue. (3) Issues Not Submitted. A party waives the right to a jury trial on any issue of fact raised by the pleadings or evidence but not submitted to the jury unless, before the jury retires, the party demands its submission to the jury. If the party does not demand submission, the court may make a finding on the issue. If the court makes no finding, it is considered to have made a finding consistent with its judgment on the special verdict.
(b) General Verdict with Answers to Written Questions. (1) In General. The court may submit to the jury forms for a general verdict, together with written questions on one or more issues of fact that the jury must decide. The court must give the instructions and explanations necessary to enable the jury to render a general verdict and answer the questions in writing, and must direct the jury to do both.(2) Verdict and Answers Consistent. When the general verdict and the answers are consistent, the court must approve, for entry under Rule 58, an appropriate judgment on the verdict and answers. (3) Answers Inconsistent with the Verdict. When the answers are consistent with each other but one or more is inconsistent with the general verdict, the court may: (A) approve, for entry under Rule 58, an appropriate judgment according to the answers, notwithstanding the general verdict; (B) direct the jury to further consider its answers and verdict; or (C) order a new trial. (4) Answers Inconsistent with Each Other and the Verdict. When the answers are inconsistent with each other and one or more is also inconsistent with the general verdict, judgment must not be entered; instead, the court must direct the jury to further consider its answers and verdict, or must order a new trial.
Selected Committee Notes
The Federal courts are not bound to follow state statutes authorizing or requiring the court to ask a jury to find a special verdict or to answer interrogatories. Victor American Fuel Co. v. Peccarich, 209 Fed. 568 (C.C.A.8th, 1913) cert. den. 232 U.S. 727 (1914); Spokane and I. E. R. Co. v. Campbell, 217 Fed. 518 (C.C.A.9th, 1914), affd. 241 U.S. 497 (1916); Simkins, Federal Practice (1934) §186. The power of a territory to adopt by statute the practice under Subdivision (b) has been sustained. Walker v. New Mexico and Southern Pacific R. R., 165 U.S. 593 (1897); Southwestern Brewery and Ice Co. v. Schmidt, 226 U.S. 162 (1912).