California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

2900. Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that while [he/she/[name of decedent]] was employed by [name of defendant], [[he/she] was harmed by/ [his/her] death was caused by] [name of defendant]'s negligence. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of plaintiff/decedent] was employed by [name of defendant];

2. That [name of defendant] was a common carrier by railroad;

3. That [name of defendant] was engaged in interstate commerce;

4. That [name of plaintiff/decedent]'s job duties furthered, or in any way substantially affected, interstate commerce;

5. That [name of plaintiff/decedent] was acting within the scope of [his/her] employment at the time of the incident;

6. That [name of defendant] was negligent;

7. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

8. That [name of defendant]'s negligence was a cause of [name of plaintiff/decedent]'s [harm/death].

["Interstate commerce" is commercial activity that crosses more than one country or state, such as the movement of goods from one state to another.]

Directions for Use

In many case, some of the elements itemized above may not be contested or may be decided by the judge as a matter of law in advance of trial. Such elements may be deleted from this instruction.

If the plaintiff is bringing a negligence claim under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and a claim under the Federal Safety Appliance Act (SAA) or the Boiler Inspection Act (BIA), the court may wish to add an introductory instruction that would alert the jury to the difference between the two claims.

Sources and Authority

45 U.S.C. section 51 provides, in part: Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States or Territories, or between any of the States and Territories, or between the District of Columbia and any of the States or Territories, or between the District of Columbia or any of the States or Territories and any foreign nation or nations, shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce, or, in case of the death of such employee, to his or her personal representative, for the benefit of the surviving widow or husband and children of such employee; and, if none, then of such employee's parents; and, if none, then of the next of kin dependent upon such employee, for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment.

Any employee of a carrier, any part of whose duties as such employee shall be the furtherance of interstate or foreign commerce; or shall, in any way directly or closely and substantially, affect such commerce as above set forth shall, for the purposes of this [chapter], be considered as being employed by such carrier in such commerce and shall be considered as entitled to the benefits of this [chapter].

The FELA is "liberally construed" to further Congress's remedial goal of protecting railroad workers. (Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Gottshall (1994) 512 U.S. 532, 543 [114 S.Ct. 2396, 129 L.Ed.2d 427].)

"The elements of a FELA case are: (1) the injury occurred while the plaintiff was working within the scope of his or her employment with the railroad; (2) the employment was in furtherance of the railroad's interstate transportation business; (3) the employer railroad was negligent; and (4) the employer's negligence played some part in causing the injury for which compensation is sought under the Act." (Monarch v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1197, 1210, fn. 10 [83 Cal.Rptr.2d 247], internal citations omitted.)

"That FELA is to be liberally construed . . . does not mean that it is a workers' compensation statute. We have insisted that FELA 'does not ake the employer the insurer of the safety of his employees while they are on duty. The basis of his liability is his negligence, not the fact that injuries occur.' " (Consolidated Rail Corp., supra, 512 U.S. at p. 543, internal citations omitted.)

"We note that under the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908 an injured railroad employee may bring a cause of action without proof of negligence based on failure of the SAA-mandated safety appliances to function. When such strict liability does not apply, i.e., the injury does not result from defective equipment covered by the SAA, the employee must establish common law negligence." (Carrillo v. ACF Industries, Inc. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1158, 1170 [86 Cal.Rptr.2d 832, 980 P.2d 386], fn. 4, internal citations omitted.)

"Under the FELA, liability is established if the employer's negligence played any part in causing the employee's injury." (McDonald v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 256, 260, fn. 4 [83 Cal.Rptr.2d 734], internal citation omitted.)

"The test for coverage under the amendment is not whether the employee is engaged in transportation, but rather whether what he does in any way furthers or substantially affects transportation." (Reed v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 502, 505 [76 S.Ct. 958, 100 L.Ed. 1366].)

"Where more than one inference can be drawn from the evidence, the question whether an employee was, at the time of receiving the injury sued for, engaged in interstate commerce, is for the jury." (Sullivan v. Matt (1955) 130 Cal.App.2d 134, 139 [278 P.2d 499], internal citations omitted.)

(New September 2003)