Jensen v. White Star Lines (c) Anderson Kill & Olick 1998
Jury Charge


Members of the Jury, you are about to deliberate and decide the verdict in the case of Estate of Hans Jensen versus White Star Lines.  You are hereby charged to obey the law as I will explain it to you.  Your job is to determine what the true facts are and apply them to the law as I explain it to you. You are not to allow sympathy or animosity for either of the parties to this suit to sway your determination of the facts or your interpretation of the law. You must all decide unanimously whether the defendant, White Star Lines, should be liable for the claims made by the plaintiff, Carla Christine Jensen, Executor of the Estate of Hans Peder Jensen.

 BURDEN OF PROOF - The Plaintiff has the burden of proof on all her claims, while the Defendant has the burden of proof on all of its defenses.  A party must prove a claim or defense by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence is to prove that something is more likely than not. In other words, a preponderance of the evidence means when the evidence on one side is greater than the evidence on the other side and makes you believe that the evidence is more likely true than not. If the evidence is evenly balanced, then you must decide against the party with the burden of proof.

 JURY TO DETERMINE CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES - You are the sole judges of the credibility of the witnesses. You alone are to determine whether to believe any witnesses. If there is any conflict in the testimony, it is your function to resolve the conflict and to determine where the truth lies. If you believe that any witness has shown himself to be biased or prejudiced, either for or against either side in this trial, you may consider whether such bias has affected the ability of that witness to tell the truth.

DUTY - You must decide if White Star Lines has a duty to exercise reasonable care to provide for its passengers safety. I hereby charge you that as a matter of law, White Star Lines has this obligation.  You therefore must decide if White Star Line breached this duty through its negligence.

NEGLIGENCE - You must decide whether White Star Lines was negligent. Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable or ordinary care. Thus, negligence is doing something a person using reasonable or ordinary care would not do, or not doing something a person using ordinary care would do.

CAUSE - If you decide White Star Lines was negligent you must decide if that negligence caused the injuries and damages suffered by Hans Peder Jensen. An injury or damage is caused by an act, or a failure to act, when a preponderance of the evidence shows, that the act or omission played a substantial part in bringing about the injury or damage. There may be more than one cause of an injury.  Each person whose negligent act is a cause of an injury is responsible.

CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE DEFINED - Mr. Jensen's estate may not recover his damages if you find that his own negligence was a cause of his injury.  The defendant has the burden of proving that the plaintiff's negligence was a cause of the plaintiff's injury.

SUPERSEDING CAUSE - If you decide that despite White Star Lines' negligence, that plaintiff voluntarily decided not to seek safety without reasonable excuse, or, if some third party's act intervened that resulted in White Star Lines' negligence no longer being the cause of Mr. Jensen's injury, then you shall decide for the defendant, White Star Lines.  The defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such superseding cause happened.  If the evidence is evenly balanced as to the intervening cause you shall decide for the plaintiff.

DAMAGES - If you find for the plaintiff, then you shall award to the plaintiff a sum of money which will compensate his estate  for all the damage suffered by him, which was caused by the negligence of the defendant. You should award any future earnings to the plaintiff for the lost wages of Hans Peder Jensen. In determining this amount, you may consider Mr. Jensen's health, physical ability and earning capacity at the time of his death.

After deciding these matters, you are instructed to fill out the Special Verdict Form and return it to me. Fail not to perform your duties faithfully, truly and with out prejudice.  You may now retire to deliberate.


Judicial Process | Plaintiff | Defendant | Basic Facts | Negligence Law | Defenses | Witnesses
Jury Charge | Verdict Sheet | Contact AKO


Links | Glossary | Awards & Comments | Estate of Peder Jensen | Carla Christine Jensen's Information for her Attorney | The White Star Line | Second Officer Lightoller's Memo to the White Star's Lawyer | Mauritz Hakan Bjornstrom-Steffansson's Letter to White Star Line Counsel | Plaintiff's Exhibit I | Teacher's Guide to Jensen v. White Star Lines | The Judicial Process in the US

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