Hernandez v. JensenAnnotate this Case
California law establishes the general duty of each person to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others. The Court of Appeal declined to recognize an exception to this fundamental principle for employers and supervisors of healthcare aides working in homes where firearms are present. The court explained that it is foreseeable that an accidental shooting might occur in a home containing unsecured, loaded firearms, and policy considerations favor a duty to use reasonable care when one knows firearms are present.
In this case, defendant and her family hired two healthcare aides to work in their elderly parents' home. A jury found that defendant was liable for negligence after one of the aides removed an oxygen tank from a closet which caused a loaded rifle to fall and discharge, striking and injuring the other aide. The court concluded that defendant owed the aide a duty of care. The court also held that substantial evidence supports the jury's finding that defendant's negligence was a substantial factor in causing the aide's harm. In this case, despite defendant's knowledge that her father kept firearms in the house and that the aides' job duties required them to work throughout much of the residence, defendant neither secured the firearms nor warned the aids of their presence. Finally, the court concluded that there was no error in the jury instructions.