Bell v. Greg Agee Construction, Inc.
125 Cal. App. 4th 453 (4th Dist. Dec. 29, 2004)

General contractor which did not affirmatively contribute to injury of subcontractor’s employee was not subject to liability under peculiar risk doctrine for employee’s injury even though subcontractor lacked workers’ compensation insurance at the time of the injury. Because subcontractor’s employee was not prevented from seeking compensation from the state’s Uninsured Employers Fund, there was no justification for imposing vicarious liability on general contractor.

Elsner v. Uveges
34 Cal. 4th 915 (Dec. 20, 2004)

Roofing subcontractor’s employee, injured when a scaffold collapsed beneath him at a construction site, brought a third party action against general contractor asserting several causes of action including negligence and premises liability. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling that, because of 1999 amendments to Labor Code section 6304.5, plaintiffs may use Cal-OSHA provisions to show a duty or standard of care to the same extent as any other regulation or statute, whether the defendant is their employer or a third party. The only exception to this rule is that, where the state is the defendant based on actions it took or failed to take in its regulatory capacity, Cal-OSHA provisions remain inadmissible to show liability based on breach of the statutory duty to inspect worksites and enforce safety rules.

Lewis v. Chevron USA Inc.
119 Cal. App. 4th 690 (1st Dist. Jun. 18, 2004)

Eight years after Chevron sold a property, Lewis was injured on the property when a hot water pipe burst due to a poorly soldered pipe joint. The trial court granted Chevron’s motion for summary judgment based on the fact that Chevron had sold the property eight years before Lewis’ accident and did not possess or otherwise control the property since the sale.

On appeal, Lewis conceded that, before the accident, no one could have known of the existence of the defective connection concealed inside the joint of the water pipe. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that, absent concealment, a prior owner of real property is not liable for injuries caused by a defective condition on the property long after the prior owner relinquished ownership, even if the prior owner negligently created the condition.

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