Products Liability: Harm Caused by Other Manufacturer’s Product

By on July 20, 2012 - Comments off

Shields v. Hennessy Industries, (First District, April 13, 2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 782, 140 Cal.Rptr.3d 268, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4809, 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5595

Several plaintiffs who suffered from diseases allegedly resulting from work-related asbestos exposure brought personal injury actions against the manufacturer of asbestos brake grinding machines, contending that they had been exposed to asbestos dust released into the air from brake linings during the operation of the machines. Asserting causes of action for negligence and strict liability, the plaintiffs alleged that even though the machines themselves contained no asbestos components, the defendant knew that its machines would be used on asbestos-containing brake linings, thereby creating a hazard to users, and that the defendant should have taken precautions to protect users from exposure to and inhalation of asbestos dust.

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and denied leave to amend, finding that because the defendant did not manufacture or distribute any product with asbestos, the plaintiffs could not plead a viable cause of action. However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that the plaintiffs had pleaded viable causes of action for negligence and strict liability: Read the rest »


Respondeat Superior: Course and Scope of Employment

By on December 22, 2011 - Comments off

Agustus Vogt v. Herron Construction, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2011 WL 5142986, 11 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 13,556

A concrete subcontractor was injured at a construction site when he was run over by a personal vehicle owned and driven by an employee of another contractor. He then filed an action against the driver’s employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior, alleging that the employee had accidentally run him over while moving his own pickup truck in order to allow the concrete subcontractor’s employees to begin pouring cement nearby.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, contending that its employee was not acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident, because he was moving his personal vehicle, which was not required for his job, and was doing so for a non-work-related purpose of preventing damage to the truck from splashing of wet concrete.

The trial court granted summary judgment but the court of appeal reversed, holding that by moving his truck, the worker was furthering the employer’s overall enterprise, and that moving the truck was necessary to “his comfort, convenience and welfare while on the job”: Read the rest »


Negligent Entrustment: Trucking Accident

By on August 10, 2011 - Comments off

Diaz v. Carcamo, (California Supreme Court, June 23, 2011) — P.3d —-, 2011 WL 2473597
A woman who was injured in a freeway collision filed an action for negligence against the driver of a truck which collided with her vehicle. The plaintiff also sued the driver’s employer under a theory of negligent hiring and retention. The defendant employer offered to admit vicarious liability, arguing that, under Armenta v. Churchill (1954) 42 Cal.2d 448, its admission should preclude a cause of action for negligent hiring, retention and entrustment. However, at trial the court permitted the plaintiff to proceed on the negligent hiring and retention theory, and over objection of the defendants, allowed evidence of the driver’s prior accidents and employment history.

The court of appeal affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, holding that Armenta was distinguishable because it involved entrustment instead of hiring, and did not involve an allocation of comparative fault. However, the California Supreme Court reversed, holding that where an employer admits vicarious liability for any negligent driving by its employees, a plaintiff may not pursue a negligent entrustment, hiring or retention claim: Read the rest »


Negligence Per Se: Cal-OSHA Regulations

By on June 28, 2011 - Comments off

Iversen v. California Village Homeowners Association, (Second District, March 23, 2011) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 193 Cal.App.4th 951, 2011 WL 1034261, 11 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 3584, 2011 Daily Journal D.A.R. 4282

A heating and refrigeration contractor who was injured in a fall from a ladder while servicing air conditioners at a condominium complex, filed suit against the homeowner’s association which had hired him. The plaintiff asserted a negligence per se cause of action, contending that the defendant had violated Cal-OSHA regulations which require a cage or other safety device for ladders taller than 20 feet, such as the one being used at the time of the accident.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that because the plaintiff was an independent contractor, and not an employee, it was not required to comply with Cal-OSHA regulations and did not owe him a duty of care. The trial court granted the motion and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that Cal-OSHA regulations do not apply to an independent contractor, and therefore could not be used by the plaintiff to establish negligence per se: Read the rest »


Liability Releases: Gross Negligence

By on March 17, 2011 - Comments off

Eriksson v. Nunnink (Fourth District, January 10, 2011) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2011 WL 60516

The parents of a 17 year old equestrian competitor who was killed when the horse she was riding tripped over a hurdle and fell on her, filed an action for wrongful death against their daughter’s riding coach. Although the girl and her mother had signed a liability release, assuming all risks and holding the coach harmless from any and all claims, the plaintiffs alleged the coach had unreasonably increased the risk of harm to the decedent by knowingly permitting her to ride a horse which she knew to be unfit because of prior falls and lack of practice.

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion on the grounds of primary assumption of the risk, but the court of appeal reversed, holding, inter alia, that triable issues of fact existed as to whether the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent within the meaning of City of Santa Barbara v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal. 4th 747:

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Posted in: Negligence



Emotional Distress: Consumer Review Websites

By on January 23, 2011 - Comments off

Wong v. Tai Jing (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1354, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 747

A man who was upset over the treatment his son had received from a pediatric dentist posted a number of criticisms of the dentist on, a website which posts consumer reviews of a variety of businesses. The dentist filed suit against the man, asserting causes of action for libel per se and intentional infliction of emotional distress, contending that the defendant’s comments falsely implied the dentist had not warned about mercury in a silver amalgam, that she had misdiagnosed the son’s case, and that she had improperly used a general anesthetic. The postings also included, “I wish there were a “0” star [] rating. Avoid her like a disease!”

When the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action as a strategic lawsuit against public participation under the Anti-SLAPP statute (C.C.P. 425.16) the trial court denied the motion, finding that although the action arose from protected speech, the plaintiff had established a probability of success on the merits. The court of appeal held that the trial court had properly denied the motion as to the libel cause of action, but found that the causes of action for emotional distress should have been dismissed, in that the plaintiff’s response to the posting was not sufficiently severe or serious: Read the rest »

Posted in: Internet Law, Negligence