California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1002. Extent of Control Over Premises Area

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] controlled the property involved in [name of plaintiff]’s harm, even though [name of defendant] did not own or lease it. A person controls property that he or she does not own or lease when he or she uses the property as if it were his or her own. A person is responsible for maintaining, in reasonably safe condition, all areas he or she controls.

New September 2003

Directions for Use

Use this instruction only for property that is not actually owned or leased by the defendant.

Sources and Authority

  • “[I]t is clear from [Alcaraz v. Vece (1997) 14 Cal.4th 1149, 1167 [60 Cal.Rptr.2d 448, 929 P.2d 1239]] that simple maintenance of an adjoining strip of land owned by another does not constitute an exercise of control over that property. Although evidence of maintenance is considered ‘relevant on the issue of control,’ the court limited its holding by stating that ‘the simple act of mowing a lawn on adjacent property (or otherwise performing minimal, neighborly maintenance of property owned by another) generally will [not], standing alone, constitute an exercise of control over [the] property . . . .’ ” (Contreras v. Anderson (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 188, 198–199 [69 Cal.Rptr.2d 69].)
  • “In Alcaraz . . . , our Supreme Court held that a landowner who exercises control over an adjoining strip of land has a duty to protect or warn others entering the adjacent land of a known hazard there. This duty arises even if the person does not own or exercise control over the hazard and even if the person does not own the abutting property on which the hazard is located. . . . [¶] The Alcaraz court concluded that such evidence was ‘sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether defendants exercised control over the strip of land containing the meter box and thus owed a duty of care to protect or warn plaintiff of the allegedly dangerous condition of the property.’ ” (Contreras, supra, 59 Cal.App.4th at pp. 197–198, footnote and internal citations omitted.)
  • “ ‘ “The crucial element is control.” [Citation.]’ ‘[W]e have placed major importance on the existence of possession and control as a basis for tortious liability for conditions on the land.’ ” (Salinas v. Martin (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 404, 414 [82 Cal.Rptr.3d 735], original italics, internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 1083, 1084

1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 15, General Premises Liability, §§ 15.02–15.03 (Matthew Bender)

11 California Real Estate Law and Practice, Ch. 381, Tort Liability of Property Owners, §§ 381.03–381.04 (Matthew Bender)

29 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 334, Landlord and Tenant: Claims for Damages, § 334.52 (Matthew Bender)

36 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 421, Premises Liability, § 421.15 (Matthew Bender)

17 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 178, Premises Liability, § 178.60 et seq. (Matthew Bender)

1 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 16:2