California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

416. Amount of Caution Required in Transmitting Electric Power

People and companies must be very careful in constructing, insulating, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing power lines and transmission equipment at all places where it is reasonably probable that they will cause harm to persons or property.

New September 2003

Directions for Use

The cases have crafted a specific standard of care for the construction and maintenance of power lines, and juries must be instructed on this standard upon request. (Scally v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (1972) 23 Cal.App.3d 806, 816 [100 Cal.Rptr. 501].)

Sources and Authority

  • Electric power lines are considered dangerous instrumentalities. (Polk v. City of Los Angeles (1945) 26 Cal.2d 519, 525 [159 P.2d 931].)
  • The requirement to insulate wires applies to only those wires that may come into contact with people or property: “While an electric company is not under an absolute duty to insulate or make the wires safe in any particular manner, it does have a duty to make the wires safe under all the exigencies created by the surrounding circumstances. The duty of an electric company is alternative, i.e., either to insulate the wires or to so locate them to make them comparatively harmless.” (Scally, supra, 23 Cal.App.3d at pp. 815–816.)
  • Dunn v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (1954) 43 Cal.2d 265, 272–274 [272 P.2d 745]; McKenzie v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (1962) 200 Cal.App.2d 731, 736 [19 Cal.Rptr. 628] (disapproved on another ground in Di Mare v. Cresci (1962)
  • 58 Cal.2d 292, 299 [23 Cal.Rptr. 772, 373 P.2d 860].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 919

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) §§ 7.1–7.12

23 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 277, Gas and Electricity (Matthew Bender)