CACI 1001 Basic Duty of Care

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

1001 Basic Duty of Care

A person who [owns/leases/occupies/controls] property is negligent if that person fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. A person who [owns/leases/occupies/controls] property must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.

In deciding whether [name of defendant] used reasonable care, you may consider, among other factors, the following:

(a)The location of the property;

(b)The likelihood that someone would come on to the property in the same manner as [name of plaintiff] did;

(c)The likelihood of harm;

(d)The probable seriousness of such harm;

(e)Whether [name of defendant] knew or should have known of the condition that created the risk of harm;

(f)The difficulty of protecting against the risk of such harm; [and]

(g)The extent of [name of defendant]’s control over the condition that created the risk of harm; [and]

(h)[Other relevant factor(s).]

Directions for Use

Not all of these factors will apply to every case. Select those that are appropriate to the facts of the case.

Under the doctrine of nondelegable duty, a property owner cannot escape liability for failure to maintain property in a safe condition by delegating the duty to an independent contractor. (Brown v. George Pepperdine Foundation (1943) 23 Cal.2d 256, 260 [143 P.2d 929].) For an instruction for use with regard to a landowner’s liability for the acts of an independent contractor, see CACI No. 3713, Nondelegable Duty.

Sources and Authority

“Broadly speaking, premises liability alleges a defendant property owner allowed a dangerous condition on its property or failed to take reasonable steps to secure its property against criminal acts by third parties.” (Delgado v. American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1406, fn. 1 [85 Cal.Rptr.2d 838], internal citation omitted.)

“It is now well established that California law requires landowners to maintain land in their possession and control in a reasonably safe condition.” (Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th 666, 674 [25 Cal.Rptr.2d 137, 863 P.2d 207], internal citations omitted.)

“To comply with this duty, a person who controls property must ‘ “ ‘ “inspect [the premises] or take other proper means to ascertain their condition” ’ ” ’ and, if a dangerous condition exists that would have been discovered by the exercise of reasonable care, has a duty to give adequate warning of or remedy it.” (Staats v. Vintner’s Golf Club, LLC (2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 826, 833 [236 Cal.Rptr.3d 236].)

“[T]he measures an operator must take to comply with the duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition depend on the circumstances, and the issue is a question for the jury unless the facts of the case are not reasonably in dispute.” (Staatssupra, 25 Cal.App.5th at p. 840.)

“An owner of real property is ‘not the insurer of [a] visitor’s personal safety … .’ However, an owner is responsible ‘ “for an injury occasioned to another by [the owner’s] want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property. …” ’ Accordingly, landowners are required ‘to maintain land in their possession and control in a reasonably safe condition’, and to use due care to eliminate dangerous conditions on their property.” (Taylor v. Trimble (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 934, 943–944 [220 Cal.Rptr.3d 741], internal citations omitted.)

“[T]he issue concerning a landlord’s duty is not the existence of the duty, but rather the scope of the duty under the particular facts of the case. Reference to the scope of the landlord’s duty ‘is intended to describe the specific steps a landlord must take in a given specific circumstance to maintain the property’s safety to protect a tenant from a specific class of risk.’ ” (Lawrence v. La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Inc. (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 11, 23 [179 Cal.Rptr.3d 758], original italics, internal citation omitted.)

“The proper test to be applied to the liability of the possessor of land … is whether in the management of his property he has acted as a reasonable man in view of the probability of injury to others … .” (Rowland v. Christian (1968) 69 Cal.2d 108, 119 [70 Cal.Rptr. 97, 443 P.2d 561].)

“It is well settled that a property owner is not liable for damages caused by a minor, trivial, or insignificant defect in his property. This principle is sometimes referred to as the ‘trivial defect defense,’ although it is not an affirmative defense but rather an aspect of duty that a plaintiff must plead and prove. … Moreover, what constitutes a minor defect may be a question of law.” (Cadam v. Somerset Gardens Townhouse HOA (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 383, 388–389 [132 Cal.Rptr.3d 617], internal citations omitted.)

In this state, duties are no longer imposed on an occupier of land solely on the basis of rigid classifications of trespasser, licensee, and invitee. The purpose of plaintiff’s presence on the land is not determinative. We have recognized, however, that this purpose may have some bearing upon the liability issue. This purpose therefore must be considered along with other factors weighing for and against the imposition of a duty on the landowner.” (Ann M., supra, 6 Cal.4th at pp. 674–675, internal citations omitted.)

“As stated in Beauchamp v. Los Gatos Golf Course (1969) 273 Cal.App.2d 20, 25 [77 Cal.Rptr. 914], ‘[t]he term “invitee” has not been abandoned, nor have “trespasser” and “licensee.” In the minds of the jury, whether a possessor of the premises has acted as a reasonable man toward a plaintiff, in view of the probability of injury to him, will tend to involve the circumstances under which he came upon defendant’s land; and the probability of exposure of plaintiff and others of his class to the risk of injury; as well as whether the condition itself presented an unreasonable risk of harm, in view of the foreseeable use of the property.’ Thus, the court concluded, and we agree, Rowland ‘does not generally abrogate the decisions declaring the substantive duties of the possessor of land to invitees nor those establishing the correlative rights and duties of invitees.’ (Id., at p. 27.)” (Williams v. Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc. (1986) 182 Cal.App.3d 479, 486–487 [227 Cal.Rptr. 465], overruled on other grounds in Soule v. GM Corp. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298].)

“The distinction between artificial and natural conditions [has been] rejected.” (Sprecher v. Adamson Companies (1981) 30 Cal.3d 358, 371 [178 Cal.Rptr. 783, 636 P.2d 1121].)

“It must also be emphasized that the liability imposed is for negligence. The question is whether in the management of his property, the possessor of land has acted as a reasonable person under all the circumstances. The likelihood of injury to plaintiff, the probable seriousness of such injury, the burden of reducing or avoiding the risk, the location of the land, and the possessor’s degree of control over the risk-creating condition are among the factors to be considered by the trier of fact in evaluating the reasonableness of a defendant’s conduct.” (Sprecher, supra, 30 Cal.3d at p. 372.)

“[A] landowner’s duty of care to avoid exposing others to a risk of injury is not limited to injuries that occur on premises owned or controlled by the landowner. Rather, the duty of care encompasses a duty to avoid exposing persons to risks of injury that occur off site if the landowner’s property is maintained in such a manner as to expose persons to an unreasonable risk of injury offsite. (Annocki v. Peterson Enterprises, LLC (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 32, 38 [180 Cal.Rptr.3d 474].)

“The duty which a possessor of land owes to others to put and maintain it in reasonably safe condition is nondelegable. If an independent contractor, no matter how carefully selected, is employed to perform it, the possessor is answerable for harm caused by the negligent failure of his contractor to put or maintain the buildings and structures in reasonably safe condition, irrespective of whether the contractor’s negligence lies in his incompetence, carelessness, inattention or delay.” (Brown, supra, 23 Cal.2d at p. 260.)

“[A] defendant property owner’s compliance with a law or safety regulation, in and of itself, does not establish that the owner has utilized due care. The owner’s compliance with applicable safety regulations, while relevant to show due care, is not dispositive, if there are other circumstances requiring a higher degree of care.” (Lawrence, supra, 231 Cal.App.4th at p. 31.)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 1228
Friedman et al., California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, Ch. 6-A, Liability For Defective Conditions On Premises, ¶ 6:1 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
Friedman et al., California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, Ch. 6-B, Landlord Liability For Injuries From Acts Of Others, ¶ 6:48 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 15, General Premises Liability, § 15.01 (Matthew Bender)
6 California Real Estate Law and Practice, Ch. 170, The Premises: Duties and Liabilities, §§ 170.01, 170.03, 170.20 (Matthew Bender)
11 California Real Estate Law and Practice, Ch. 381, Tort Liability of Property Owners, § 381.01 (Matthew Bender)
29 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 334, Landlord and Tenant: Claims for Damages, §§ 334.10, 334.50 (Matthew Bender)
36 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 421, Premises Liability, § 421.11 (Matthew Bender)
17 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 178, Premises Liability, § 178.20 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
1 California Civil Practice: Torts § 16:3 (Thomson Reuters)