California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

1102. Definition of "Dangerous Condition" (Gov. Code, § 830(a))

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1102.Definition of “Dangerous Condition” (Gov. Code, § 830(a))
A “dangerous condition” is a condition of public property that creates a
substantial risk of injury to members of the general public when the
property [or adjacent property] is used with reasonable care and in a
reasonably foreseeable manner. A condition that creates only a minor
risk of injury is not a dangerous condition. [Whether the property is in
a dangerous condition is to be determined without regard to whether
[[name of plaintiff]/ [or] [name of third party]] exercised or failed to
exercise reasonable care in [his/her] use of the property.]
New September 2003; Revised June 2010
Directions for Use
Give the last sentence if comparative fault is at issue. It clarifies that comparative
fault does not negate the possible existence of a dangerous condition. (See Fredette
v. City of Long Beach (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 122, 131 [231 Cal.Rptr. 598].)
Sources and Authority
• “Dangerous Condition” Defined. Government Code section 830(a).
• No Liability for Minor Risk. Government Code section 830.2.
• “The Act defines a ‘ “[d]angerous condition” ’ as ‘a condition of property that
creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial or insignificant) risk
of injury when such property or adjacent property is used with due care in a
manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used.’ Public
property is in a dangerous condition within the meaning of section 835 if it ‘is
physically damaged, deteriorated, or defective in such a way as to foreseeably
endanger those using the property itself.’ ” (Cordova v. City of L.A. (2015) 61
Cal.4th 1099, 1105 [190 Cal.Rptr.3d 850, 353 P.3d 773], internal citations
omitted.)
• “A public entity is not, without more, liable under section 835 for the harmful
conduct of third parties on its property. But if a condition of public property
‘creates a substantial risk of injury even when the property is used with due
care’, a public entity ‘gains no immunity from liability simply because, in a
particular case, the dangerous condition of its property combines with a third
party’s negligent conduct to inflict injury.’ ” (Cordova, supra, 61 Cal.4th at p.
1105, internal citations omitted.)
• “In general, ‘[whether] a given set of facts and circumstances creates a
dangerous condition is usually a question of fact and may only be resolved as a
question of law if reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion.’ ”
(Peterson v. San Francisco Community College Dist. (1984) 36 Cal.3d 799, 810
[205 Cal.Rptr. 842, 685 P.2d 1193], internal citation omitted.)
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• “An initial and essential element of recovery for premises liability under the
governing statutes is proof a dangerous condition existed. The law imposes no
duty on a landowner—including a public entity—to repair trivial defects, or ‘to
maintain [its property] in an absolutely perfect condition.’ ” (Stathoulis v. City
of Montebello (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 559, 566 [78 Cal.Rptr.3d 910], internal
citations omitted.)
• “The status of a condition as ‘dangerous’ for purposes of the statutory definition
does not depend on whether the plaintiff or other persons were actually
exercising due care but on whether the condition of the property posed a
substantial risk of injury to persons who were exercising due care.” (Cole v.
Town of Los Gatos (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 749, 768 [140 Cal.Rptr.3d 722],
original italics.)
• “[T]he fact the particular plaintiff may not have used due care is relevant only
to his [or her] comparative fault and not to the issue of the presence of a
dangerous condition.” (Castro v. City of Thousand Oaks (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th
1451, 1459 [192 Cal.Rptr.3d 376].)
• “The negligence of a plaintiff-user of public property . . . is a defense which
may be asserted by a public entity; it has no bearing upon the determination of
a ‘dangerous condition’ in the first instance. . . . If, however, it can be shown
that the property is safe when used with due care and that a risk of harm is
created only when foreseeable users fail to exercise due care, then such
property is not ‘dangerous’ within the meaning of section 830, subdivision (a).”
(Fredette, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 131, internal citation omitted.)
• “Even though it is foreseeable that persons may use public property without due
care, a public entity may not be held liable for failing to take precautions to
protect such persons.” (Fredette, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 132, internal
citation omitted.)
• “With respect to public streets, courts have observed ‘any property can be
dangerous if used in a sufficiently improper manner. For this reason, a public
entity is only required to provide roads that are safe for reasonably foreseeable
careful use. [Citation.] “If [] it can be shown that the property is safe when
used with due care and that a risk of harm is created only when foreseeable
users fail to exercise due care, then such property is not ‘dangerous’ within the
meaning of section 830, subdivision (a).” [Citation.]’ ” (Sun v. City of Oakland
(2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1177, 1183 [83 Cal.Rptr.3d 372], internal citations
omitted.)
• “[A] prior dangerous condition may require street lighting or other means to
lessen the danger but the absence of street lighting is itself not a dangerous
condition.” (Mixon v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 124,
133 [142 Cal.Rptr.3d 633].)
• “Although public entities may be held liable for injuries occurring to reasonably
foreseeable users of the property, even when the property is used for a purpose
for which it is not designed or which is illegal, liability may ensue only if the
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property creates a substantial risk of injury when it is used with due care.
Whether a condition creates a substantial risk of harm depends on how the
general public would use the property exercising due care, including children
who are held to a lower standard of care. (§ 830.) The standard is an objective
one; a plaintiff’s particular condition . . . , does not alter the standard.”
(Schonfeldt v. State of California (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 1462, 1466 [72
Cal.Rptr.2d 464], internal citations omitted.)
• “A public entity may be liable for a dangerous condition of public property
even where the immediate cause of a plaintiff’s injury is a third party’s
negligence if some physical characteristic of the property exposes its users to
increased danger from third party negligence. ‘But it is insufficient to show only
harmful third party conduct, like the conduct of a motorist. “ ‘[T]hird party
conduct, by itself, unrelated to the condition of the property, does not constitute
a “dangerous condition” for which a public entity may be held liable.’ ” . . .
There must be a defect in the physical condition of the property and that defect
must have some causal relationship to the third party conduct that injures the
plaintiff. . . .’ ” (Salas v. Department of Transportation (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th
1058, 1069–1070 [129 Cal.Rptr.3d 690], internal citation omitted.)
• “Nothing in the provisions of section 835, however, specifically precludes a
finding that a public entity may be under a duty, given special circumstances, to
protect against harmful criminal conduct on its property.” (Peterson, supra, 36
Cal.3d at pp. 810–811, internal citations omitted.)
• “Two points applicable to this case are . . . well established: first, that the
location of public property, by virtue of which users are subjected to hazards on
adjacent property, may constitute a ‘dangerous condition’ under sections 830
and 835; second, that a physical condition of the public property that increases
the risk of injury from third party conduct may be a ‘dangerous condition’
under the statutes.” (Bonanno v. Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (2003)
30 Cal.4th 139, 154 [132 Cal.Rptr.2d 341, 65 P.3d 807].)
• “[T]he absence of other similar accidents is ‘relevant to the determination of
whether a condition is dangerous.’ But the city cites no authority for the
proposition that the absence of other similar accidents is dispositive of whether
a condition is dangerous, or that it compels a finding of nondangerousness
absent other evidence.” (Lane v. City of Sacramento (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th
1337, 1346 [107 Cal.Rptr.3d 730], original italics, internal citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 269
2California Government Tort Liability Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 4th ed.) § 12.15
5 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 61, Particular Liabilities and Immunities of
Public Entities and Public Employees, § 61.01[2][a] (Matthew Bender)
40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 464, Public Entities and
Offıcers: California Government Claims Act, § 464.81 (Matthew Bender)
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19A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 196, Public Entities, § 196.11 (Matthew
Bender)
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