California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
2920. Essential Factual Elements - Federal Safety Appliance Act or Boiler Inspection Act
[Name of plaintiff] [also] 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 [describe violation of Federal Safety Appliance Act/Boiler Inspection Act]. 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 plaintiff/decedent] was acting within the scope of [his/her] employment at the time of the incident;
4. That [name of defendant] was engaged in interstate commerce;
5. That [name of plaintiff/decedent]'s job duties furthered, or in any way substantially affected, interstate commerce;
6. That [name of defendant] [describe violation of Federal Safety Appliance Act/Boiler Inspection Act];
7. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and
8. That [name of defendant]'s conduct was a cause of [[name of plaintiff]'s harm/[name of decedent]'s 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.]
[Name of defendant] is responsible for harm caused by [describe conduct that violated the FSA/BIA] even if it was not negligent. If you find that [name of defendant] is responsible for [name of plaintiff/decedent]'s [harm/death], [name of plaintiff]'s recovery, if any, must not be reduced because of [name of plaintiff/decedent]'s own conduct.
Directions for Use
The statutory violation should be paraphrased in this instruction where indicated. Separate instructions may need to be drafted detailing the statutory requirements of the specific violation as alleged and any applicable defenses. (See 49 U.S.C. §§ 20301 et seq., 20501 et seq., and 20701.)
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.
Do not give a contributory negligence instruction if the case is brought under this theory.
Sources and Authority
45 U.S.C. section 53 provides, in part: "[T]he fact that the employee may have been guilty of contributory negligence shall not bar a recovery, but the damages shall be diminished by the jury in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to such employee: Provided, that no such employee who may be injured or killed shall be held to have been guilty of contributory negligence in any case where the violation by such common carrier of any statute enacted for the safety of employees contributed to the injury or death of such employee."
45 U.S.C. section 54 provides: "In any action brought against any common carrier under or by virtue of any of the provisions of this chapter to recover damages for injuries to, or the death of, any of its employees, such employee shall not be held to have assumed the risks of his employment in any case where such injury or death resulted in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier; and no employee shall be held to have assumed the risks of his employment in any case where the violation by such common carrier of any statute enacted for the safety of employees contributed to the injury or death of such employee."
45 U.S.C. section 54a provides: "A regulation, standard, or requirement in force, or prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation under chapter
201 of title 49, United States Code [49 USCS §§ 20101 et seq.], or by a State agency that is participating in investigative and surveillance activities under section 20105 of title 49, is deemed to be a statute under sections 3 and 4 of this Act [45 USCS §§ 53, 54]."
"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. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the SAA imposes a duty on railroads extending to nonemployee travelers at railway/highway crossings, who must bring a common law tort action in state court (absent diversity) and must prove negligence." (Carrillo v. ACF Industries, Inc. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1158, 1170, fn. 4 [86 Cal.Rptr.2d 832, 980 P.2d 386], internal citations omitted.)
"[An] FSAA violation is per se negligence in a FELA suit. In other words, the injured employee has to show only that the railroad violated the FSAA, and the railroad is strictly liable for any injury resulting from the violation." (Phillips v. CSX Transportation Co. (4th Cir. 1999) 190 F.3d 285, 288.)
49 U.S.C. section 20302(a) provides: (a) General. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section and section 20303 of this title, a railroad carrier may use or allow to be used on any of its railroad lines—
(1) a vehicle only if it is equipped with—
(A) couplers coupling automatically by impact, and capable of being uncoupled, without the necessity of individuals going between the ends of the vehicles;
(B) secure sill steps and efficient hand brakes; and
(C) secure ladders and running boards when required by the Secretary of Transportation, and, if ladders are required, secure handholds or grab irons on its roof at the top of each ladder;
(2) except as otherwise ordered by the Secretary, a vehicle only if it is equipped with secure grab irons r handholds on its ends and sides for greater security to individuals in coupling and uncoupling vehicles;
(3) a vehicle only if it complies with the standard height of drawbars required by regulations prescribed by the Secretary;
(4) a locomotive only if it is equipped with a power-driving wheel brake and appliances for operating the train-brake system; and
(5) a train only if—
(A) enough of the vehicles in the train are equipped with power or train brakes so that the engineer on the locomotive hauling the train can control the train's speed without the necessity of brake operators using the common hand brakes for that purpose; and
(B) at least 50 percent of the vehicles in the train are equipped with power or train brakes and the engineer is using the power or train brakes on those vehicles and on all other vehicles equipped with them that are associated with those vehicles in the train.
49 U.S.C. section 20502(b) provides: (b) Use. A railroad carrier may allow a signal system to be used on its railroad line only when the system, including its controlling and operating appurtenances—
(1) may be operated safely without unnecessary risk of personal injury; and
(2) has been inspected and can meet any test prescribed under this chapter [49 USCS §§ 20501 et seq.].
49 U.S.C. section 20701 provides: A railroad carrier may use or allow to be used a locomotive or tender on its railroad line only when the locomotive or tender and its parts and appurtenances—
(1) are in proper condition and safe to operate without unnecessary danger of personal injury;
(2) have been inspected as required under this chapter and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation under this chapter; and
(3) can withstand every test prescribed by the Secretary under this chapter.
" 'The BIA and the SAA are regarded as amendments to the FELA. The BIA supplements the FELA to provide additional public protection and facilitate employee recovery. . . . [T]he BIA imposes on the carrier an absolute duty to maintain the locomotive, and all its parts and appurtenances, in proper condition, and safe to operate without unnecessary peril to life or limb.' " (Fontaine v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 1519, 1525 [63 Cal.Rptr.2d 644], internal citation omitted.)
"[N]either contributory negligence nor assumption of the risk is a defense to a BIA violation which has contributed to the cause of an injury." (Fontaine, supra, 54 Cal.App.4th at p. 1525.)
"Where an inefficient brake causes an injury the carrier in interstate commerce under the Safety Appliance Act cannot escape liability, and proof of negligence on the part of the railroad is unnecessary." (Leet v. Union Pacific Railroad Co. (1943) 60 Cal.App.2d 814, 817 [142 P.2d 37].)
"Proof of a BIA violation is enough to establish negligence as a matter of law, and neither contributory negligence nor assumption of risk can be raised as a defense." (Law v. General Motors Corp. (9th Cir. 1997) 114 F.3d 908, 912, internal citations omitted.)
"The purpose in enacting the BIA was to protect train service employees and the traveling public from defective locomotive boilers and equipment. '[I]t has been held consistently that the [BIA] supplements the [FELA] by imposing on interstate railroads "an absolute and continuing duty" to provide safe equipment.' In addition to the civil penalty, a person harmed by violation of the BIA is given recourse to sue under FELA, which applies only to railroad employees injured while engaged in interstate commerce. FELA provides the exclusive remedy for recovery of damages against a railroad by its employees. FELA liability is expressly limited to common carriers." (Viad Corp. v. Superior Court (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 330, 335 [64 Cal.Rptr.2d 136], internal citations omitted, disapproved on other grounds in Scheiding v. General Motors Corp. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 471, 484, fn. 6 [93 Cal.Rptr.2d 342, 993 P.2d 996].)
45 U.S.C. section 51 provides, in part: "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 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.2d 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)