Zuniga v. Cherry Avenue Auction, Inc.Annotate this Case
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of plaintiff in an action brought against defendants, the owners and operators of an outdoor swap meet, where plaintiff and her husband rented two vendor spaces. When plaintiff and her husband were setting up their booth, a 28-foot metal pole holding their advertising banner touched an overhead power line. Plaintiff and her husband were electrocuted, and he died. A jury found that defendants were 77.5 percent at fault and plaintiff's damages totaled $12.25 million. Defendants contend that they owe no duty of care to plaintiff because the danger presented by the overhead power line was open and obvious.
The court concluded that the evidence presented in this case did not establish as a matter of law that the danger was open and obvious. The court explained that it was not obvious that the line was uninsulated, that it was energized, or that the amount of electricity being transmitted was lethal. Therefore, a warning would not have been superfluous; it would have provided information that was not obvious. The court also concluded that, because no workers' compensation insurance covered the injuries to plaintiff and her husband, the Privette doctrine should not be extended to the landlord-tenant relationship that existed in this case.