The Guide is an invaluable online tool for litigation and transactional attorneys. The Guide provides for more than 70 common law causes of action:

- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
- AND, The Guide is updated annually.

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Negligence, Willful Misconduct

1 Elements and Case Citations

Willful misconduct is an aggravated form of negligence.  “Unlike negligence or even gross negligence, ‘[w]ilful misconduct involves a more positive intent actually to harm another or to do an act with a positive, active and absolute disregard of its consequences.’”

“In addition to the requirements for negligence, Plaintiff must allege three elements:

‘(1) actual or constructive knowledge of the peril to be apprehended,
(2) actual or constructive knowledge that injury is a probable, as opposed to a possible, result of the danger, and
(3) conscious failure to act to avoid the peril.’”

Berkley v. Dowds, 152 Cal. App. 4th 518, 528 (2007).


Supreme Court of California:  Calvillo-Silva v. Home Grocery, 19 Cal. 4th 714, 728-30 (__), partially disapproved on other grounds, Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 25 Cal. 4th 826, 854 n.19 (2001). 

California 1st District:  Manuel v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 173 Cal. App. 4th 927, 939-40 (2009).

California 2d District:  Berkley v. Dowds, 152 Cal. App. 4th 518, 528 (2007); Acosta v. Glenfed Development Corp., 128 Cal. App. 4th 1278, 1294-95 (2005). 

California 3d District:  Charpentier v. Von Geldern, 191 Cal. App. 3d 101, 113 (1987).

California 4thDistrict:  Carter v. Prime Healthcare Paradise Valley LLC, 198 Cal. App. 4th 396, 412-13 (2011); Morgan v. Southern Pacific Trans. Co., 37 Cal. App. 3d 1006, 1011-12 (1974).

California 5th District:  Chappell v. Palmer, 236 Cal. App. 2d 34, 36 (1965) (discussing distinction between gross negligence and willful misconduct).

California 6th District: None.


United States Court of Appeal for the 9th CircuitDazo v. Globe Airport Security Servs., 295 F.3d 934, 941 (9th Cir. 2002).

Central District:  Jhaveri v. ADT Sec. Serv., No. 2:11-cv-4426-JHN-MANx, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38100, at *10 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 6, 2012).

Eastern District:  Galvan v. Mimms, No. 1:11-cv-00326-SAB, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67099, at *12-13 (E.D. Cal. May 10, 2013); Robinson v. United States, 175 F. Supp. 2d 1215, 1230-31 (E.D. Cal. 2001).

Northern District:  Singh v. United States, 718 F. Supp. 2d 1139, 1147-48 (N.D. Cal. 2010).

Southern District:  Oppenheimer v. Southwest Airlines Co., No. 13-CV-260 - IEG (BGS), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85633, at *3-4 (S.D. Cal. June 17, 2013).

2 Issues and Defenses to Claim for Negligence - Willful Misconduct

(1)  Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses.  See Chapter 1 for all defenses.

(2)   Statute of Limitations:  Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 335.1 (two years).

(3)  Pleading with Specificity:  A claim for Willful Misconduct must be pleaded with specificity.  Charpentier v. Von Geldern, 191 Cal. App. 3d 101, 114 (1987) (“A plaintiff must allege specific facts establishing the[se] three essential elements. . . .”); but see Oppenheimer v. Southwest Airlines Co., No. 13-CV-260 - IEG (BGS), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85633, at *3-4 (S.D. Cal. June 17, 2013) (complaints in Federal Court are governed by Federal pleading standards, and it need not be pleaded with specificity).

(4)  See Affirmative Defenses for Negligence (Ch.48) & Gross Negligence (Ch.49).