CACI No. 2920. Federal Safety Appliance Act or Boiler Inspection Act - Essential Factual Elements

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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2920.Federal Safety Appliance Act or Boiler Inspection
Act - Essential Factual Elements
[Name of plaintiff] [also] claims that while [he/she/nonbinary
pronoun/[name of decedent]] was employed by [name of defendant], [[he/
she/nonbinary pronoun] was harmed by/[his/her/nonbinary pronoun] 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
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/nonbinary pronoun] employment at the time of the
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
[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.
New September 2003; Revised December 2009, June 2011
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.)
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 comparative fault instruction if the case is brought under this theory.
Sources and Authority
Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Title 45 United States Code section 51.
Contributory Negligence Under the FELA. Title 45 United States Code section
Assumption of Risk Under the FELA. Title 45 United States Code section 54.
FELA Regulations Deemed to Be Statutes. Title 45 United States Code section
Railroad Safety Requirements. Title 49 United States Code section 20302(a).
Installation of Railroad Signal System. Title 49 United States Code section
Use of Locomotive or Tender. Title 49 United States Code section 20701.
“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, original italics.)
‘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.)
CACI No. 2920 FELA
“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].)
“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.)
Secondary Sources
42 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 485, Railroads, § 485.45
(Matthew Bender)
FELA CACI No. 2920

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