CACI No. 2901. Negligence - Duty of Railroad

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

Download PDF
2901.Negligence - Duty of Railroad
A railroad must use reasonable care under the circumstances to provide
its employees with a reasonably safe place to work and with reasonably
safe and suitable tools, machinery, and appliances. The reasonableness of
care depends on the danger associated with the workplace or the
equipment. The failure to use reasonable care is negligence. A railroad is
not negligent if, using reasonable care, it could not reasonably have
foreseen that the particular condition could cause injury.
[Name of defendant] is responsible for the negligence of any of its officers,
agents, or employees.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
For a definition of the term “negligence,” see CACI No. 401, Basic Standard of
Sources and Authority
“The plaintiff must make out a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the
employer, including the element of reasonable foreseeability. . . . ‘To recover,
the plaintiff must prove that the railroad, with the exercise of due care, could
have reasonably foreseen that a particular condition could cause injury. The
defendant’s duty is measured by what a reasonably prudent person should or
could have reasonably anticipated as occurring under like circumstances.’
(Albert v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 529, 534
[35 Cal.Rptr.2d 777], internal citations omitted.)
“Absent foreseeability, negligence is not established under FELA and without a
showing of negligence, recovery is not permitted.” (Albert, supra, 30
Cal.App.4th at p. 536, internal citation omitted.) But note that foreseeability is
not required for claims arising from the Federal Safety Appliance Act (49 U.S.C.
§ 20301 et seq.), or the Boiler Inspection Act (49 U.S.C. § 20701).
“Although a railroad’s duty to use reasonable care in furnishing employees a
safe place to work is not stated explicitly in the statute, it has become an integral
part of the FELA. Under the FELA, that duty becomes ‘more imperative’ as the
risk to an employee increases. The duty is a ‘continuing one’ and requires a jury
to weigh a myriad of factors - including the nature of a task, its hazards and
efforts - in determining whether an employer furnished an employee with a
reasonably safe place to work. This continuous duty to provide a safe place to
work is broader than the general duty to use reasonable care. Other courts in
FELA actions have held that failure to instruct a jury regarding an employers
duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work is reversible error. We agree that
when the issue is properly raised and an instruction is requested, the FELA
requires jury instructions on the duty to provide a reasonably safe place to
work.” (Ragsdell v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (9th Cir. 1982) 688 F.2d
1281, 1283, internal citations omitted.)
“The test of negligence in supplying the employee a safe place to work is
‘whether reasonable men, examining the circumstances and the likelihood of
injury, would have taken those steps necessary to remove the danger.’
(Mortensen v. Southern Pacific Co. (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 241, 244 [53
Cal.Rptr. 851], internal citations omitted.)
The duty to use reasonable care “is a duty which becomes ‘more imperative’ as
the risk increases. ‘Reasonable care becomes then a demand of higher
supremacy, and yet, in all cases it is a question of the reasonableness of the
care - reasonableness depending upon the danger attending the place or the
machinery.’ (Bailey v. Central Vermont Ry., Inc. (1943) 319 U.S. 350, 353 [63
S.Ct. 1062, 87 L.Ed. 1444], internal citation omitted.)
“The employer is not the insurer of the safety of its employees and the test of
the employers liability to an injured employee is whether ordinary care was
used by the employer in regard to the risk.” (Baez v. Southern Pacific Co. (1962)
210 Cal.App.2d 714, 717 [26 Cal.Rptr. 899], internal citation omitted.)
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an independent contractor is an “agent”
for purposes of establishing an employers liability under the FELA if the
contractor performs “operational activities” of the employer. (Sinkler v. Missouri
Pacific Railroad Co. (1958) 356 U.S. 326, 331-332 [78 S.Ct. 758, 2 L.Ed.2d
Secondary Sources
42 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 485, Railroads, § 485.35
(Matthew Bender)
CACI No. 2901 FELA

© Judicial Council of California.