HRS § 663-31(d) provides "The court shall instruct the jury
regarding the law of comparative negligence where appropriate."
The Hawaii appellate courts have found that this includes a jury
instruction explaining to the jury the practical effect of the
comparative negligence statute - especially for a plaintiff found
more than 50% negligent.
In Kaeo v. Davis, 68 Haw. 447, 719 P.2d 387 (1986), the Supreme
Court found that the trial court erred when it failed to inform
the jury of the possible legal effect of a verdict apportioning
negligence among the plaintiff and joint tortfeasors. The Hawaii
Supreme Court clearly indicated that it adopted the school of
thought regarding comparative negligence which requires the jury
to be fully informed of the legal effect of finding percentages
of negligence in order that the jury might be better able to
fulfill its fact finding function. Kaeo at page 460, 719 P.2d at
This position of the Hawaii Courts has been recently reaffirmed
in the case of Rapoza v. Parnell, 83 Haw. 78, 924 P.2d 572 (Haw.
App. 1996). In that case, the Court reversed a jury's decision
where the Plaintiff had requested an instruction regarding the
law of comparative negligence and the trial court had refused
such an instruction. The Rapoza court found once again that it
was reversible error to refuse a proposed jury instruction
regarding the practical effect of the comparative negligence