CACI No. 2903. Causation - Negligence

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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2903.Causation - Negligence
[Name of defendant]’s negligence, if any, was a cause of [[name of
plaintiff]’s harm/[name of decedent]’s death] if it played any part, no
matter how small, in bringing about the [harm/death], even if other
factors also contributed to the [harm/death].
New September 2003
Directions for Use
For an instruction on concurrent cause, see CACI No. 431, Causation: Multiple
Sources and Authority
Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Title 45 United States Code section 51.
“Under this statute the test of a jury case is simply whether the proofs justify
with reason the conclusion that employer negligence played any part, even the
slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought.”
(Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. (1957) 352 U.S. 500, 506 [77 S.Ct.
443, 1 L.Ed.2d 493].)
“In sum, the understanding of Rogers we here affirm ‘has been accepted as
settled law for several decades.’ ‘Congress has had [more than 50] years in
which it could have corrected our decision in [Rogers] if it disagreed with it, and
has not chosen to do so.’ Countless judges have instructed countless juries in
language drawn from Rogers. To discard or restrict the Rogers instruction now
would ill serve the goals of ‘stability’ and ‘predictability’ that the doctrine of
statutory stare decisis aims to ensure.” (CSX Transp., Inc. v. McBride (2011) 564
U.S. 685, 699 [131 S.Ct. 2630, 180 L.Ed.2d 637], internal citations omitted.)
“The standard under FELA is a relaxed one; to prove that a railroad breached its
duty, a ‘plaintiff must show circumstances which a reasonable person would
foresee as creating a potential for harm [and] then show that this breach played
any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury.’ ‘It is well established that
the quantum of evidence required to establish liability in an FELA case is much
less than in an ordinary negligence action.’ If the negligence of the employer
‘played any part, however small, in the injury,’ the employer is liable.” (Fair v.
BNSF Railway Co. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 269, 275-276 [189 Cal.Rptr.3d 150],
internal citation omitted.)
“The common law concept of proximate cause . . . has not been adopted as the
causation test in F.E.L.A. cases. Causation in an F.E.L.A. case exists even if
there is a plurality of causes, including the negligence of the defendant or of a
third person. The negligence of the employer need not be the sole cause or even
a substantial cause of the ensuing injury.” (Parker v. Atchison, Topeka and Santa
Fe Ry. Co. (1968) 263 Cal.App.2d 675, 678 [70 Cal.Rptr. 8].)
“Although the burden upon the plaintiff in proving causation in an F.E.L.A. case
can be weighed neither in pounds nor ounces, it is a substantially lighter burden
that that imposed upon him by [the common-law jury instruction].” (Parker,
supra, 263 Cal.App.2d at p. 678.)
“[T]he same standard of causation applies to railroad negligence under Section 1
as to plaintiff contributory negligence under Section 3.” (Norfolk Southern Ry. v.
Sorrell (2007) 549 U.S. 158, 171 [127 S.Ct. 799, 166 L.Ed.2d 638].)
Secondary Sources
2 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Workers’ Compensation,
§ 129
42 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 485, Railroads, § 485.35
(Matthew Bender)
FELA CACI No. 2903

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