CACI No. 801. Duty to Comply With Safety Regulations

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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801.Duty to Comply With Safety Regulations
An [ordinance/regulation] of the [insert name of entity] provides as
follows: [insert text of ordinance or regulation]
Railroad companies must obey safety regulations. Regulations state only
the minimum measure of care required of a railroad company.
Particular conditions and situations may require a company to use more
care than the regulations require.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
Regulations adopted by the Secretary of Transportation pursuant to the Federal
Railroad Safety Act preempt state common-law negligence claims based on general
allegations of “excessive speed.” (CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Easterwood (1993)
507 U.S. 658, 675 [113 S.Ct. 1732, 123 L.Ed.2d 387].) Also, claims alleging
inadequate warning devices are preempted where federally funded grade crossing
improvements have been installed. (Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Shanklin
(2000) 529 U.S. 344, 359 [120 S.Ct. 1467, 146 L.Ed.2d 374].) This instruction is
not intended to apply to situations in which a railroad’s compliance with these
federal safety regulations would preempt state law negligence claims.
Sources and Authority
“It is well settled that such statutory regulations constitute only the minimum
measure of care required by the railroad, and it is usually a matter for the jury to
determine whether something more than the minimum was required under the
evidence in the case.” A railroad company is not necessarily free from
negligence, even though it may have literally complied with safety statutes or
rules. The circumstances may require it to do more.” (Hogue v. Southern Pacific
Co. (1969) 1 Cal.3d 253, 258 [81 Cal.Rptr. 765, 460 P.2d 965], internal citations
omitted; Peri v. Los Angeles Junction Ry. Co. (1943) 22 Cal.2d 111, 126 [137
P.2d 441].)
“If the peculiar characteristics of a crossing call for the installation of automatic
protection - or the upgrading of existing automatic protection - the railroad may
be guilty of negligence in failing to provide such protection.” (Romo v. Southern
Pacific Transportation Co. (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 909, 916 [139 Cal.Rptr. 787],
internal citations omitted.)
“We hold that . . . federal regulations adopted by the Secretary of
Transportation pre-empt respondent’s negligence action only insofar as it asserts
that petitioners train was traveling at an excessive speed.” (CSX Transportation,
Inc., supra, 507 U.S. at p. 676.)
“When the [Federal Highway Administration] approves a crossing improvement
project and the State installs the warning devices using federal funds, [federal
regulations] establish a federal standard for the adequacy of those devices that
displaces state tort law addressing the same subject.” (Norfolk Southern Railway
Co., supra, 529 U.S. at p. 357.)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 1039, 1239, 1240,
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) Railroad Crossings, § 12.4
2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 23, Carriers, § 23.25[4] (Matthew Bender)
42 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 485, Railroads, § 485.64
(Matthew Bender)
802. Reserved for Future Use

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