Seabright Ins. v. US AirwaysAnnotate this Case
This case stemmed from injuries Anthony Verdon Lujan sustained when his arm got caught on a luggage conveyor when he was inspecting the conveyor as an employee of Lloyd W. Aubry Co. (Aubrey), an independent contractor hired by US Airways to maintain and repair the conveyor. Aubry's workers' compensation insurer paid Verdon benefits based on the injury and subsequently sued US Airways seeking what it paid in benefits. Verdon intervened as plaintiff in the action, alleging causes of action for negligence and premises liability. At issue was whether the Privette v. Superior Court rule applied when the party that hired the contractor (the hirer) failed to comply with workplace requirements concerning the precise subject matter of the contract and the injury was alleged to have occurred as a consequence of that failure. The court held that the Privette rule did apply in that circumstance. The court concluded that, by hiring an independent contractor, the hirer implicitly delegated to the contractor any tort law duty it owed to the contractor's employees to ensure the safety of the specific workplace that was the subject of the contract. That implicit delegation included any tort law duty the hirer owed to the contractor's employees to comply with applicable statutory or regulatory safety requirements. Accordingly, plaintiffs here could not recover in tort from US Airways on a theory that Verdon's workplace injury resulted from defendant's breach of what plaintiffs described as a nondelegable duty under California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 (OSHA), Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, sections 3999, 4002, regulations to provide safety guards on the conveyor. Therefore, the court erred in reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment for defendant.