Back to Main Page / Back to List of Rules

Rule 277. Special Issues (Mar1941)

TEXT

In all jury cases the court may submit said cause upon special issues without request of either party, and, upon request of either party, shall submit the cause upon special issues raised by the written pleadings and the evidence in the case, except that, for good cause subject to review or on agreement of the parties, the court may submit the same on a general charge. Such special issues shall be submitted distinctly and separately and each issue shall be answered by the jury separately, provided that, if it be deemed advisable, the court may submit disjunctively in the same question two inconsistent issues where it is apparent from the evidence that one or the other of the conditions or facts inquired about necessarily exists. For example, the court may, in a workmen's compensation case, submit in one question whether the injured employee was permanently or only temporarily disabled. Where practicable, all issues should be submitted in the affirmative, and in plain and simple language. Itis proper to so frame the issue as to place the burden of proof thereon, but where, in the opinion of the court, this cannot be done without complicating the form of the issue, the burden of proof on such issue may be placed by a separate instruction thereon. In submitting special issues the court shall submit such explanatory instructions and such definitions of legal terms as shall be necessary to enable the jury to properly pass upon and render a verdict on such issues, and in such instances the charge shall not be subject to the objection that it is a general charge. If the nature of the suit is such that it cannot be determined on the submission of special issues, the court may refuse the request to do so, but the action of the court in refusing may be reviewed on proper exception in the appellate court, and this rule shall be construed in connection with the succeeding rule.

See note, Subsection D: Changes indicated: "In all jury cases the court may submit said cause upon special issues without request of either party, and upon request of either party, shall submit the cause upon special issues raised by the written pleadings and the evidence in the case, except that, for good cause subject to review or on agreement of the parties, the court may submit the same on a general charge. Such special issues shall be submitted distinctly and separately and each issue shall be answered by the jury separately, provided that, if it be deemed advisable, the court may submit disjunctively in the same question two inconsistent issues where it is apparent from the evidence that one or the other of the conditions or facts inquired about necessarily exists. For example, the court may, in a workmen's compensation case, submit in one question whether the injured employee was permanently or only temporarily disabled. Where practicable, all issues should be submitted in the affirmative, and in plain and simple language. It is proper to so frame the issue as to place the burden of proof thereon, but where, in the opinion of the court, this cannot be done without complicating the form of the issue, the burden of proof on such issue may be placed by a separate instruction thereon. In submitting special issues the court shall submit such [explanations] explanatory instructions and such definitions of legal terms as shall be necessary to enable the jury to properly pass upon and render a verdict on such issues, and in such instances the charge shall not be subject to the objection that it is a general charge. If the nature of the suit is such that it cannot be determined on the submission of special issues, the court may refuse the request to do so, but the action of the court in refusing may be reviewed on proper exception in the appellate court, and this [article] rule shall be construed in connection with the succeeding [article] rule."

Amended by order of March 31, 1941, eff. Sept. 1, 1941.

Prior Amendments Future Amendments
Oct. 29, 1940, eff. Sept. 1, 1941 May 25, 1973, eff. Sept. 1, 1973
  Dec. 5, 1983, eff. April 1, 1984
  July 15, 1987, eff. Jan. 1, 1988

ADVISORY OPINIONS

(No. 27-a) Question: When a justice court case is appealed to the county court and the pleadings are reduced to writing under Rule 525, do the oral pleadings in the justice court go out of the case to the extent that they cannot be shown?

Answer: In the sense that the oral pleadings go out of the case for the purpose of trial and relief in the county court, we consider that the situation is one like that of amendment: The new pleading takes the place of the old and the old is no longer a part of the case. However, it may become important to show what the old pleadings were in connection with contentions under the statutes of limitation and with contentions that a new cause of action has been set up for the first time in the county court.

It should be added that while, therefore, the written pleadings in the county court are the pleadings upon which the case is tried, if the trial is upon certain proof that is variant from or has no support in the written pleadings, but no objection or the like is made to the variance or departure, Rule 67 applies and it will be as though there had been sufficient pleading. In this connection see also Rule 66 as to ready amendment if objection is made. Doubtless in a case of appeal from justice to county court the rules above cited would not go to the extent of allowing a new cause of action to be set up in the county court or recovered on in the county court; but with this qualification there should be little difficulty about variance or departure. And, of course, by the time of a special issue submission all pleadings relied upon in the submission would have to be in writing, under Rules 67, 277, and 279, unless the defect should be waived under Rule 274.

5 Tex. B.J. 287 (1942) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 19 (1945).

(No. 88) Question: Rule 67 reads "When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by the express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings ... provided that written pleadings, before the time of submission, shall be necessary to the submission of special issues, as is provided in Rules 277 and 279." Does this rule mean that it is necessarily reversible error to submit special issues when they have not been raised by the written pleadings as provided in the above rule and in Rules 277 and 279?

Answer: No. Rule 274 was amended at a later date than the date upon which the above requirements were promulgated. This later amendment reads "Any complaint as to an instruction, issue, definition or explanatory instruction on account of any defect, omission, or fault, in pleading, shall be deemed waived unless specifically included in the objections." This amendment is contained, it will be recalled, within a rule, which, regulates objections to the charge of the court. So that the opinion of the subcommittee is that issues, submitted, without written pleadings to support them will not be erroneous upon that ground unless objection upon, that ground is made.

6 Tex. B.J. 77 (1943) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 33 (1945).

Question: Rule 277, among other things provides:

"* * * * provided that, if it be deemed advisable the court may submit disjunctively in the same question two inconsistent issues where it is apparent from the evidence that one or the other of the conditions or fact inquired about necessarily exists. For example, the court may, in a workmen's compensation case, submit in one question whether the injured employee was permanently or only temporarily disabled."

It is now permissible to submit these two issues disjunctively in two separate issues, first inquiring if the disability is permanent, then preface the next issue by: "If you have answered the foregoing question 'Yes' you need not answer the following issue, but if you have answered the foregoing question 'No,' you shall answer the following issue" and then inquire if the disability is temporary?

Answer: Prior to the effective date of the rules, the conditional submission of such issues was reversible error. See Federal Underwriters Exch. v. Lynch, 140 Tex. 516, 168 S.W.2d 653 (1943) and cases therein cited.

Rule 277 provides that two inconsistent issues may be submitted disjunctively in the same question where it is apparent that one or the other of the conditions or facts inquired about necessarily exists.

Since the rule provides that such issues may be submitted disjunctively in one issue, the question is whether or not such issues may be disjunctively submitted in two issues, by a conditional submission of the second issue.

The result of such submission in one question or a conditional submission in two issues is the same, i.e. a disjunctive submission. Since Rule No. 1 provides that the rules should be given a liberal construction, it is the opinion of the committee that such disjunctive or conditional submission of the issues in two questions is permissible. To hold otherwise would be to violate the spirit of the rules, and give them a strict construction violating Rule No. 1.

8 Tex. B.J. 281 (1945).

Question: "In a case submitted on special issues where the question at issue is whether or not a deed is a mortgage or a deed absolute would the trial court be authorized to submit in conjunction with other instructions, the following instruction to the jury: 'You are instructed that evidence relied on for the purpose of affixing the character of a mortgage to a deed absolute must be clear, strong and convincing.' "

Answer: No. The Committee is of the opinion that such an instruction would constitute reversible error. Rule 277 does not contemplate such a general charge. See Johnson v. Zurich General Accident & Liab. Co., 146 Tex. 232, 205 S.W.2d 353 (1947).

11 Tex. B.J. 277 (1948).