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 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.