Supreme Court to Consider Scope of Homeowner Liability under Privette Doctrine for Injuries Caused By Open and Obvious Hazards
May 17, 2018
Gonzalez v. Mathis
20 Cal.App.5th 257 (2018), review granted May 16, 2018, S247677
The Supreme Court has granted review to consider whether a homeowner should be liable for injuries to a contractor caused by hazards on the owner’s property that were known to the contractor at the commencement of his work.Homeowner Johnny Mathis hired a contractor to wash skylights. While on the roof, the contractor lost his footing and fell off. The contractor sued the owner, claiming he was required to walk along a ledge on the roof where the shingles were worn and slippery and there were no anchor points for a safety harness. The owner argued he was not liable because the dangerous condition was known to the contractor and the contractor could have avoided the danger. The trial court granted summary judgment for the owner, finding the contractor was aware of the hazards.
The Court of Appeal held that “the [homeowner] hirer can be held liable when he or she exposes a contractor (or its employees) to a known hazard that cannot be remedied through reasonable safety precautions.” (Emphasis added.) The court therefore reversed the summary judgment, finding a triable issue whether the contractor could have remedied the known dangerous conditions through the adoption of reasonable safety precautions.