California Appellate Court Finds Defendant Was Not Liable in Third-Party Workplace Injury Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a California workplace injury lawsuit that was brought by the family of a man who died after falling while washing windows on the defendant’s building. The case required the court to discuss the concept of third-party liability as it pertains to workplace injury lawsuits. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant corporation was not liable to the deceased’s estate because the corporation took no “affirmative conduct” that caused the man’s fall.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a man who fell to his death while washing windows at the defendant’s three-story building. At the time, the victim was employed by a company that had contracted with the defendant corporation. The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant corporation, claiming that it was negligent for the defendant not to install roof anchors that the deceased could have used to anchor his descent apparatus. The roof anchors were required by statute.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that under the prevailing case law, it could not be held liable because it had contracted with the window-washing company and retained no control over how the work would be completed. Essentially, the defendant argued that it delegated the duty of providing a safe workplace to the window-washing company, and since the defendant did not instruct the company on how the work was to be completed, the defendant did not otherwise assume a duty of care.

The trial court heard arguments on, and ultimately granted, the defendant’s motion.

The Court’s Analysis

The court began its analysis by noting that, normally, a person who hires an independent contractor to perform work will not be liable for injuries caused as a result of that work because they retain no control over how the work is completed. However, in some cases in which the contracting party delegates a non-delegable duty, or when the contracting party retains control of how the work is completed, the contracting party may still be liable.

Here, the court explained that neither of the exceptions mentioned above apply to the plaintiff’s case. First, the court held that the defendant was permitted to delegate the duty to provide a safe workplace to the window-washing company that employed the decedent. Similarly, the court concluded that the defendant retained no control over how the work was completed. That being the case, the court held that the plaintiffs’ case could not proceed against the defendant.

Have You Been Injured in a California Workplace Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a California workplace accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation above and beyond that which is available through the workers’ compensation program. The dedicated California personal injury lawyers at Sharifi Firm have decades of experience handling a wide range of California workplace injury claims, and they provide free consultations and case evaluations to accident victims. To learn more, and to schedule your free consultation, call 866-422-7222 today.

More Blog Posts:

The Types of Available Damages in California Injury Claims, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2018

California Court Awards Additional Costs After Party Rejects Settlement and Loses at Trial, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, February 19, 2018

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