California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

2922. Statute of Limitations - Special Verdict Form or Interrogatory

[Name of plaintiff] must prove that [he/she] did not know, and could not reasonably have known, before [date three years before action was commenced],

1. That [he/she] had been harmed; and

2. That the harm was potentially caused by [his/her] work with [name of defendant].

You will be asked a question about this on a special [verdict form/interrogatory].

Sources and Authority

45 U.S.C. section 56 provides: "No action shall be maintained under this [chapter] unless commenced within three years from the day the cause of action accrued."

"Compliance with the three-year statute of limitations is a condition precedent for recovery in a FELA action. In cases of latent or progressive injuries . . . the 'discovery rule' directs that the cause of action does not commence to run until the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury and its cause." (Monarch v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1197, 1203 [83 Cal.Rptr.2d 247], internal citations omitted.)

"The burden is therefore on the claimant to allege and to prove that his cause of action was commenced within the three-year period." (Emmons v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co. (5th Cir. 1983) 701 F.2d 1112, 1118, internal citations omitted.)

"Under the discovery rule, the test is an objective inquiry into whether the plaintiff knew or should have known, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the essential facts of injury and cause. Constructive rather than actual knowledge of the fact of causation triggers a duty to investigate the possible causes of injury. Thus, in accordance with the objective test, 'definite knowledge' that the injury is work related is not necessary in order for the cause of action to accrue. Once the plaintiff believes or suspects that the 'potential cause of his injury' is work elated, an affirmative duty to investigate is imposed." (Monarch,

supra, 70 Cal.App.4th at p. 1203.)

(New September 2003)