California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

1207A. Strict Liability—Comparative Fault of Plaintiff

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1207A.Strict Liability—Comparative Fault of Plaintiff
[Name of defendant] claims that [name of plaintiff]’s own negligence
contributed to [his/her] harm. To succeed on this claim, [name of
defendant] must prove both of the following:
1. [insert one or more of the following:]
1. [That [name of plaintiff] negligently [used/misused/modified] the
[product];] [or]
1. [That [name of plaintiff] was [otherwise] negligent;]
1. and
2. That this negligence was a substantial factor in causing [name of
plaintiff]’s harm.
If [name of defendant] proves the above, [name of plaintiff]’s damages are
reduced by your determination of the percentage of [name of plaintiff]’s
responsibility. I will calculate the actual reduction.
Derived from former CACI No. 1207 April 2009; Revised December 2009
Directions for Use
Give this instruction if the defendant alleges that the plaintiff’s own negligence
contributed to his or her harm. See also CACI No. 405, Comparative Fault of
Plaintiff. For an instruction on the comparative fault of a third person, see CACI
No. 1207B, Strict Liability—Comparative Fault of Third Person.
Subsequent misuse or modification may be considered in determining comparative
fault if it was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injury. (See Torres v.
Xomox Corp. (1996) 49 Cal.App.4th 1, 17 [56 Cal.Rptr.2d 455].) Unforeseeable
misuse or modification can be a complete defense if it is the sole cause of the
plaintiff’s harm. (See Campbell v. Southern Pacific Co. (1978) 22 Cal.3d 51, 56
[148 Cal.Rptr. 596, 583 P.2d 121].) See also CACI No. 1245, Affırmative
Defense—Product Misuse or Modification.
Sources and Authority
• “[W]e do not permit plaintiff’s own conduct relative to the product to escape
unexamined, and as to that share of plaintiff’s damages which flows from his
own fault we discern no reason of policy why it should, following Li, be borne
by others.” (Daly v. General Motors Corp. (1978) 20 Cal.3d 725, 737 [144
Cal.Rptr. 380, 575 P.2d 1162] [comparative fault applies to strict product
liability actions].)
• “[A] petitioner’s recovery may accordingly be reduced, but not barred, where
his lack of reasonable care is shown to have contributed to his injury.”
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(Bradfield v. Trans World Airlines, Inc. (1979) 88 Cal.App.3d 681, 686 [152
Cal.Rptr. 172].)
• “The record does not support [defendant]’s assertion that modification of the
bracket was the sole cause of the accident. The record does indicate that if the
bracket had not been modified there would have been no need to remove it to
reach the flange bolts, and thus the modification was one apparent cause of
[plaintiff]’s death. However, a number of other causes, or potential causes, were
established, including: [plaintiff]’s failure to wear protective clothing; [third
party]’s failure to furnish the correct replacement bracket for the valve; [third
party]’s failure to furnish [employer] with all of the literature it received from
[defendant]; and negligence on the part of [employer] independent of its
modification of the valve, including violations of various federal Occupational
Safety and Health Administration regulations governing equipment and training
in connection with the accident.” (Torres, supra, 49 Cal.App.4th at p. 17.)
• “While a jury may well find [plaintiff]’s conduct substantially contributed to the
accident [citing this instruction], we cannot say that conduct, even if sufficient
to establish criminal storage of a firearm, absolves [defendants], as a matter of
law, from all liability for a design defect that may otherwise be shown to exist
in the Glock 21. [Plaintiff]’s responsibility for his own injuries is
quintessentially a question for the jury.” (Chavez v. Glock, Inc. (2012) 207
Cal.App.4th 1283, 1308 [144 Cal.Rptr.3d 326], internal citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 1542
California Products Liability Actions, Ch. 8, Defenses, §§ 8.03, 8.04 (Matthew
Bender)
40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 460, Products Liability,
§§ 460.53, 460.182 (Matthew Bender)
19 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 190, Products Liability, § 190.253
(Matthew Bender)
CACI No. 1207A PRODUCTS LIABILITY
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