CACI 2903 Causation—Negligence

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

2903 Causation—Negligence

[Name of defendant]’s negligence, if any, was a cause of [[name of plaintiff]’s harm/[name of decedent]’s death] if it played any part, no matter how small, in bringing about the [harm/death], even if other factors also contributed to the [harm/death].

Directions for Use

For an instruction on concurrent cause, see CACI No. 431, Causation: Multiple Causes.

Sources and Authority

Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Title 45 United States Code section 51.

“Under this statute the test of a jury case is simply whether the proofs justify with reason the conclusion that employer negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought.” (Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. (1957) 352 U.S. 500, 506 [77 S.Ct. 443, 1 L.Ed.2d 493].)

“In sum, the understanding of Rogers we here affirm ‘has been accepted as settled law for several decades.’ ‘Congress has had [more than 50] years in which it could have corrected our decision in [Rogers] if it disagreed with it, and has not chosen to do so.’ Countless judges have instructed countless juries in language drawn from Rogers. To discard or restrict the Rogers instruction now would ill serve the goals of ‘stability’ and ‘predictability’ that the doctrine of statutory stare decisis aims to ensure.” (CSX Transp., Inc. v. McBride (2011) 564 U.S. 685, 699 [131 S.Ct. 2630, 180 L.Ed.2d 637], internal citations omitted.)

“The standard under FELA is a relaxed one; to prove that a railroad breached its duty, a ‘plaintiff must show circumstances which a reasonable person would foresee as creating a potential for harm [and] then show that this breach played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury.’ ‘It is well established that the quantum of evidence required to establish liability in an FELA case is much less than in an ordinary negligence action.’ If the negligence of the employer ‘played any part, however small, in the injury,’ the employer is liable.” (Fair v. BNSF Railway Co. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 269, 275–276 [189 Cal.Rptr.3d 150], internal citation omitted.)

“The common law concept of proximate cause … has not been adopted as the causation test in F.E.L.A. cases. Causation in an F.E.L.A. case exists even if there is a plurality of causes, including the negligence of the defendant or of a third person. The negligence of the employer need not be the sole cause or even a substantial cause of the ensuing injury.” (Parker v. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Ry. Co. (1968) 263 Cal.App.2d 675, 678 [70 Cal.Rptr. 8].)

“Although the burden upon the plaintiff in proving causation in an F.E.L.A. case can be weighed neither in pounds nor ounces, it is a substantially lighter burden that that imposed upon him by [the common-law jury instruction].” (Parker, supra, 263 Cal.App.2d at p. 678.)

“[T]he same standard of causation applies to railroad negligence under Section 1 as to plaintiff contributory negligence under Section 3.” (Norfolk Southern Ry. v. Sorrell (2007) 549 U.S. 158, 171 [127 S.Ct. 799, 166 L.Ed.2d 638].)

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Workers’ Compensation, § 129
42 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 485, Railroads, § 485.35 (Matthew Bender)