IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
October 18, 2011
PUONGPUN SANANIKONE, PLAINTIFF,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT,
PAUL TA, ET AL., COUNTERCLAIM DEFENDANTS.
This order confirms a bench order issued on the first day of trial, October 18, 2011.
Sananikone has submitted a general verdict with special interrogatories under Fed. R. Civ. P. 49(b). Whether to give such a verdict is within the trial court's discretion. Cancellier v. Federated Department Stores, 672 F.2d 1312 (9th Cir. 1982). A general verdict with special interrogatories is returned "upon one or more issues of fact the decision of which is necessary to a verdict." Zhang v. American Gem Seafoods, Inc., 339 F.3d 1020, 1031 (9th Cir. 2003).
Sananikone has asked the jury to answer interrogatories corresponding to factors developed in the case law for determining whether a person is "responsible" within the meaning of 26 U.S.C. section 6672. The Ninth Circuit has recognized several factors "relevant to whether an individual" is a responsible party. United States v. Jones, 33 F.3d 1137, 1140 (9th Cir. 1994), but the ultimate issue of fact necessary to the verdict is whether the party is responsible. Plaintiff has not cited to authority requiring that the wide range of factors set forth in his proposed verdict form be identified by the jury in returning the verdict. Given the range of factors relevant to the determination, the court declines to list any combination of these on the verdict form.
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