Alaniz v. Sun Pacific Shippers, L.P.Annotate this Case
Sun Pacific appealed the trial court's judgment after a jury awarded damages against it for injuries sustained by an employee of one of its independent contractors.
The Court of Appeal held that the trial court prejudicially erred because it did not instruct the jury on the Privette/Hooker doctrine as it applies to either negligence or premises liability. In this case, the trial court instructed the jury that Sun Pacific was liable if its failure to use reasonable care was a substantial factor in harming the employee, but did not say that that principle only applied to the hirer of an independent contractor if its negligent exercise of retained control over safety conditions affirmatively contributed to the harm. Furthermore, the trial court told the jury that Sun Pacific was liable if its negligent use or maintenance of the property was a substantial factor in harming the employee, but did not say that these principles would only apply to Sun Pacific if the hazard were concealed. Therefore, the court held that each instruction was an incorrect statement of law and Sun Pacific has not forfeited its contention. The court also held that the trial court's error was prejudicial. The court held that Sun Pacific was entitled to a mitigation of damages of instruction; the court reversed and remanded for a new trial on the negligence cause of action; and the court directed the trial court to enter judgment in favor of Sun Pacific on the premises liability cause of action.