Burke Defends Major Corporation from Suit by Injured Employee of Subcontractor


Our client, a major engineering and technology corporation, undertook renovation of its manufacturing facilities in the Los Angeles area. Our client hired a contracting company to do the work, and this contractor, in turn, hired several subcontractors to complete different parts of the renovation project.


Plaintiff was employed by one of the subcontractors to perform maintenance and monitoring of a cooling tower. Using the upper portion of a ladder that did not have proper footing to check the tower water level, plaintiff fell and was rendered a partial quadriplegic.


Plaintiff received workers’ compensation for his injuries through his employer but sued our client and both the subcontractor whose work he had been checking on and the subcontractor whose equipment he had borrowed. Plaintiff’s suit, based on theories of negligence, negligence per se, and premises liability, sought over eleven million dollars in damages from our client.


We filed a motion for summary judgment, based upon the Privette doctrine, which holds that when an employee of an independent contractor is injured on the workplace, the injured employee cannot sue the party that hired the contractor to do the work. The trial court granted the motion in full, entering judgment in favor or our client. Plaintiff appealed. In a published decision issued on March 28, 2019, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment, and our client prevailed on all claims.