CACI 2920 Federal Safety Appliance Act or Boiler Inspection Act—Essential Factual Elements

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

2920 Federal Safety Appliance Act or Boiler Inspection Act—Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] [also] claims that while [he/she/nonbinary pronoun/[name of decedent]] was employed by [name of defendant], [[he/she/nonbinary pronoun] was harmed by/[his/her/nonbinary pronoun] death was caused by] [name of defendant]’s [describe violation of Federal Safety Appliance Act/Boiler Inspection Act]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1.That [name of plaintiff/decedent] was employed by [name of defendant];

2.That [name of defendant] was a common carrier by railroad;

3.That [name of plaintiff/decedent] was acting within the scope of [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] employment at the time of the incident;

4.That [name of defendant] was engaged in interstate commerce;

5.That [name of plaintiff/decedent]’s job duties furthered, or in any way substantially affected, interstate commerce;

6.That [name of defendant] [describe violation of Federal Safety Appliance Act/Boiler Inspection Act];

7.That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

8.That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a cause of [[name of plaintiff]’s harm/[name of decedent]’s death].

[Interstate commerce is commercial activity that crosses more than one country or state, such as the movement of goods from one state to another.]

[Name of defendant] is responsible for harm caused by [describe conduct that violated the FSA/BIA] even if it was not negligent. If you find that [name of defendant] is responsible for [name of plaintiff/decedent]’s [harm/death], [name of plaintiff]’s recovery, if any, must not be reduced because of [name of plaintiff/decedent]’s own conduct.

Directions for Use

The statutory violation should be paraphrased in this instruction where indicated. Separate instructions may need to be drafted detailing the statutory requirements of the specific violation as alleged and any applicable defenses. (See 49 U.S.C. §§ 20301 et seq., 20501 et seq., and 20701.)

If the plaintiff is bringing a negligence claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) and a claim under the Federal Safety Appliance Act (SAA) or the Boiler Inspection Act (BIA), the court may wish to add an introductory instruction that would alert the jury to the difference between the two claims.

Do not give a comparative fault instruction if the case is brought under this theory.

Sources and Authority

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

Contributory Negligence Under the FELA. Title 45 United States Code section 53.

Assumption of Risk Under the FELA. Title 45 United States Code section 54.

FELA Regulations Deemed to Be Statutes. Title 45 United States Code section 54a.

Railroad Safety Requirements. Title 49 United States Code section 20302(a).

Installation of Railroad Signal System. Title 49 United States Code section 20502(b).

Use of Locomotive or Tender. Title 49 United States Code section 20701.

“We note that under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act of 1908 an injured railroad employee may bring a cause of action without proof of negligence based on failure of the SAA-mandated safety appliances to function. When such strict liability does not apply, i.e., the injury does not result from defective equipment covered by the SAA, the employee must establish common law negligence. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the SAA imposes a duty on railroads extending to nonemployee travelers at railway/highway crossings, who must bring a common law tort action in state court (absent diversity) and must prove negligence.” (Carrillo v. ACF Industries, Inc. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1158, 1170, fn. 4 [86 Cal.Rptr.2d 832, 980 P.2d 386], internal citations omitted.)

“[An] FSAA violation is per se negligence in a FELA suit. In other words, the injured employee has to show only that the railroad violated the FSAA, and the railroad is strictly liable for any injury resulting from the violation.” (Phillips v. CSX Transportation Co. (4th Cir. 1999) 190 F.3d 285, 288, original italics.)

“ ‘The BIA and the SAA are regarded as amendments to the FELA. The BIA supplements the FELA to provide additional public protection and facilitate employee recovery. … [T]he BIA imposes on the carrier an absolute duty to maintain the locomotive, and all its parts and appurtenances, in proper condition, and safe to operate without unnecessary peril to life or limb.’ ” (Fontaine v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 1519, 1525 [63 Cal.Rptr.2d 644], internal citation omitted.)

“[N]either contributory negligence nor assumption of the risk is a defense to a BIA violation which has contributed to the cause of an injury.” (Fontaine, supra, 54 Cal.App.4th at p. 1525.)

“Where an inefficient brake causes an injury the carrier in interstate commerce under the Safety Appliance Act cannot escape liability, and proof of negligence on the part of the railroad is unnecessary.” (Leet v. Union Pacific Railroad Co. (1943) 60 Cal.App.2d 814, 817 [142 P.2d 37].)

“Proof of a BIA violation is enough to establish negligence as a matter of law, and neither contributory negligence nor assumption of risk can be raised as a defense.” (Law v. General Motors Corp. (9th Cir. 1997) 114 F.3d 908, 912, internal citations omitted.)

“The purpose in enacting the BIA was to protect train service employees and the traveling public from defective locomotive boilers and equipment. ‘[I]t has been held consistently that the [BIA] supplements the [FELA] by imposing on interstate railroads “an absolute and continuing duty” to provide safe equipment.’ In addition to the civil penalty, a person harmed by violation of the BIA is given recourse to sue under FELA, which applies only to railroad employees injured while engaged in interstate commerce. FELA provides the exclusive remedy for recovery of damages against a railroad by its employees. FELA liability is expressly limited to common carriers.” (Viad Corp. v. Superior Court (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 330, 335 [64 Cal.Rptr.2d 136], internal citations omitted, disapproved on other grounds in Scheiding v. General Motors Corp. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 471, 484, fn. 6 [93 Cal.Rptr.2d 342, 993 P.2d 996].)

“The test for coverage under the amendment is not whether the employee is engaged in transportation, but rather whether what he does in any way furthers or substantially affects transportation.” (Reed v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 502, 505 [76 S.Ct. 958, 100 L.Ed. 1366].)

“Where more than one inference can be drawn from the evidence, the question whether an employee was, at the time of receiving the injury sued for, engaged in interstate commerce, is for the jury.” (Sullivan v. Matt (1955) 130 Cal.App.2d 134, 139 [278 P.2d 499], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

42 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 485, Railroads, § 485.45 (Matthew Bender)