Premises Liability

Premises Liability: Trivial Defects

By on November 29, 2011 - Comments off

Cadam v. Somerset Gardens Townhouse HOA, (Second District, September 28, 2011, as modified October 28, 2011) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2011 WL 5110249, 11 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 13,305

A 63 year old woman who was injured when she fell after tripping on a separation in a concrete walkway next to the townhome she was leasing, filed an action against a homeowner’s association and its management firm. Asserting causes of action for premises liability and negligence, the plaintiff alleged that the walkway had shifted and adjacent sections had separated such that they differed in height by three-fourths to seven-eighths of an inch, creating a dangerous condition.

Following a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Although the HOA association president had testified that a defect of one-half inch or more is “probably” dangerous, the court found that no reasonable person could find that the condition was not a trivial defect under the circumstances.

The court of appeal affirmed, holding that “[a] trivial defect is no less trivial when it exists on a walkway in a privately owned townhome development”: Read the rest »

Posted in: Premises Liability


School District Liability: Special Needs Students

By on February 17, 2009 - Comments off

Jennifer C. v. Los Angeles Unified School District, (2nd District, December 8, 2008) 168 Cal. App. 4th 1320, 86 Cal.Rptr.3d 274, 2008 WL 5122998

A 14-year-old special needs student who was sexually assaulted on school grounds during a lunch break filed an action against the school district, alleging negligent supervision and maintenance of a dangerous condition of public property. The plaintiff contended that while “mainstreamed” and allowed to interact with the general education student body, she was assaulted by another special needs student who took her to a hidden alcove underneath a stairway.

The school district moved for summary judgment, arguing that as a matter of law the plaintiff would have to demonstrate that the same type of conduct or victimization had previously occurred on the campus before there could be a finding of foreseeability. The trial court granted summary judgment, but the court of appeal reversed, holding that the absence of prior similar incidents was not a bar to a finding of liability: Read the rest »


Premises Liability: Non-Delegable Statutory Duties

By on January 26, 2009 - Comments off

Padilla v. Pomona College, (2nd District, September 3, 2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 661, 82 Cal.Rptr.3d 869

An employee of a subcontractor who was demolishing water pipes in a dormitory basement was injured when a gusher or water from a broken pipe knocked him off a ladder. The plaintiff filed suit against the property owner as well as the general contractor, alleging that the defendants had violated common law and statutory duties to insure that there was no water pressure in the pipes in the area he was working. The plaintiff also contended that the defendants had failed to follow a Cal-OSHA regulation which required utilities to be shut off, capped, or otherwise controlled during demolition, or protected if use was necessary. (Cal.Code Regs. Title 8, section 1735)

The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment under Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689, 21 Cal.Rptr.2d 72, finding that the defendants had fully delegated the task of providing a safe work environment to the plaintiff’s employer, and that the regulation did not impose a duty on the defendants independent of the retained control theory of liability.

The court of appeal affirmed, holding that regulation 1735(a) did not impose a non-delegable duty on the defendants:

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Posted in: Premises Liability


Premises Liability: Negligent Security

By on June 1, 2008 - Comments off

Ericson v. Federal Express Corporation (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1291, 77 Cal.Rptr.3d 1

An independent contractor who was working late at night at a FedEx terminal was severely injured when he was assaulted in a dimly lit parking lot while returning to his car at the end of his shift. The man sued FedEx for premises liability, alleging that the assault was reasonably foreseeable because the defendant required him to park in an isolated area, and did not include the non-employee parking area in its security inspections. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant had notice of transients living in nearby canyons and that it should have allowed contractor’s employees to park where its own employees parked.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it owed no duty to prevent the assault because there were no prior assaults on the property. The trial court granted the motion and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that the security measures proposed by the plaintiff were minimally burdensome, but that the third-party assault was not foreseeable under the “regular reasonable foreseeabilty” test:

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Posted in: Premises Liability