California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

900. Introductory Instruction

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was harmed by [name of defendant]’s negligence while [he/she] was a passenger on [name of defendant]’s [insert type of carrier — e.g., train].

[In this case, [name of defendant] was a common carrier at the time of the incident. A common carrier provides transportation to the general public.]


[[Name of plaintiff] also claims that [name of defendant] was a common carrier at the time of the incident.]

New September 2003

Directions for Use

Give either one of the bracketed sentences, depending on whether the defendant’s status as a common carrier is contested or not.

This instruction is intended as an introductory instruction to frame the issues. CACI No. 400, Negligence—Essential Factual Elements, would still be given to set forth the elements that plaintiff has to prove in order to recover (i.e., negligence, harm, and causation).

Sources and Authority

  • Civil Code section 2168 provides: “Everyone who offers to the public to carry persons, property, or messages, excepting only telegraphic messages, is a common carrier of whatever he thus offers to carry.”
  • Civil Code section 2085 provides: “[C]arriage is a contract for the conveyance of property, persons, or messages, from one place to another.”
  • “[A] common carrier within the meaning of Civil Code section 2168 is any entity which holds itself out to the public generally and indifferently to transport goods or persons from place to place for profit.” (Squaw Valley Ski Corporation v. Superior Court (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1499, 1508 [3 Cal.Rptr.2d 897].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 923–932

2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 23, Carriers, § 23.01 (Matthew Bender)

11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 109, Carriers (Matthew Bender)

2 California Civil Practice: Torts § 28:1 (Thomson Reuters West)