San Diego Partners Julia Bergstrom and Michael Zech obtained summary judgment in favor of one of the firm’s builder clients.
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, an employee of one of the client’s subcontractors, alleges he suffered significant injuries after a piece of framing lumber was dropped from two stories above where he was working, striking him on the head. Although the plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and continues to receive benefits, he also filed a civil lawsuit against the builder, alleging it is also responsible for his injuries based on premises liability and negligence theories of liability. The plaintiff claimed that the builder retained control of the worksite and responsibility for safety of on-site personnel.
In the motion for summary judgment, the defense successfully argued that the plaintiff’s exclusive remedy for his workplace injury was under California’s comprehensive workers’ compensation system. Further, in light of the California Supreme Court’s holdings in Privette v. Superior Court and its progeny, the builder is not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries as a matter of law because responsibility for the plaintiff’s safety had been delegated to and assumed by his employer, an independent contractor. The Court agreed and ruled that the builder was entitled to summary judgment in its favor on all of the plaintiff’s causes of action.