(a) Special Verdicts. The court may require a jury to return only a special verdict in the form of a special written finding upon each issue of fact. In that event the court may submit to the jury written questions susceptible of categorical or other brief answer or may submit written forms of the several special findings which might properly be made under the pleadings and evidence; or it may use such other method of submitting the issues and requiring the written findings thereon as it deems most appropriate. The court shall give to the jury such explanation and instruction concerning the matter thus submitted as may be necessary to enable the jury to make its findings upon each issue. If in so doing the court omits any issue of fact raised by the pleadings or by the evidence, each party waives his right to a trial by jury of the issue so omitted unless before the jury retires he demands its submission to the jury. As to an issue omitted without such demand the court may make a finding; or if it fails to do so, it shall be deemed to have made a finding in accord with the judgment on the special verdict.
(b) General Verdict Accompanied by Answer to Interrogatories. The court may submit to the jury, together with appropriate forms for a general verdict, written interrogatories upon one or more issues of fact the decision of which is necessary to a verdict. The court shall give such explanation or instruction as may be necessary to enable the jury both to make answers to the interrogatories and to render a general verdict, and the court shall direct the jury both to make written answers and to render a general verdict. When the general verdict and the answers are harmonious, the appropriate judgment upon the verdict and answers shall be entered pursuant to Rule 58. When the answers are consistent with each other but one or more is inconsistent with the general verdict, judgment may be entered pursuant to Rule 58 in accordance with the answers, notwithstanding the general verdict, or the court may return the jury for further consideration of its answers and verdict or may order a new trial. When the answers are inconsistent with each other and one or more is likewise inconsistent with the general verdict, judgment shall not be entered, but the court shall return the jury for further consideration of its answers and verdict or shall order a new trial.
(c) Verdict in Action for Personal Property. In an action for the recovery of specific personal property, if the property has not been delivered to the plaintiff, or if it has and the defendant demands its return, the jury shall assess the value of the property if the verdict be in favor of the plaintiff or if they find that the defendant is entitled to a return of the property. The jury may at this time assess the damages, both actual and punitive, which the prevailing party has sustained by reason of the detention or taking and withholding of such property.
These Rules 49(a) and (b) are the same as the Federal Rules. They essentially preserve present State practice as to general and special verdicts under Code §§ 15-33-20, 15-33-30 and 15-33-40, with the important innovation that under Rule 49(a) the court may require only a special verdict in any case, rather than both a general and a special verdict under the old Code procedure. This innovation has proven increasingly valuable in complex litigation after 40 years of experience with the Federal Rule. Rule 49(c) is added to preserve Code §§ 15-33-30 and 15-69-210, as to special findings required in actions for claim and delivery.