A negligence per se jury instruction is not warranted absent a finding that the violation was the proximate cause of the accident.
Taulbee v. EJ Distribution Corp. (May 20, 2019, G054545)
A California Court of Appeal in a published opinion circumscribed a plaintiff’s requested jury instructions to conduct that could have proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiffs filed suit for injuries arising out of a collision into the back of the defendant’s tractor trailer parked in a highway gore point, the area between the highway and the on/off ramp. They sought an instruction holding the defendant liable for negligence per se for driving into the gore point about four to eight minutes prior to the collision. The trial judge refused, and the jury returned a defense verdict finding that the defendant was not negligent for parking in the gore point.
The Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed and subsequently certified its opinion for publication. It held that despite evidence supporting the instruction, a negligence per se instruction was not warranted absent a finding that the violation was the proximate cause of the accident. It further held that any error was harmless given the jury verdict finding the defendant not negligent for parking in the gore point.