Beebe v. Wonderful Pistachios etc.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff worked as an electrical foreman for Braaten Electric, Inc. Braaten Electric, Inc. was hired as a subcontractor by Defendant Potential Design, Inc. and its owner to work on electrical installations for two successive silo construction projects at a nut facility in Firebaugh that was owned and operated by Defendant Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, LLC. Potential Design, Inc. was the general contractor for both construction projects. The nut facility was plagued by flocks of migrating swallows that roosted, over several years, under the roof of an open, barn-like structure (the pole barn), and created sizable accumulations of bird feces. Sometime after Plaintiff’s work at the nut facility was finished, he was diagnosed with a fungal infection, histoplasmosis, which had spread to his brain, resulting in certain permanent impairments. Histoplasmosis is caused by inhalation of airborne spores of a fungus called histoplasma capsulatum or H. capsulatum. Plaintiff sued Defendants, alleging their conduct with respect to the bird infestation and accumulation of bird feces at the nut facility was a substantial factor in causing his histoplasmosis. The trial court excluded the declarations of Plaintiff’s experts and granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
The Fifth Appellate District reversed. The court concluded that the trial court erred in excluding the declarations submitted by Plaintiff’s experts and, further, that summary judgment is not warranted here. Moreover, the court concluded that Plaintiff has raised a triable issue of material fact as to whether there is a reasonable medical probability that Wonderful’s conduct with respect to the birds and bird feces at the Firebaugh Facility was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s illness.