JOHNSON, v. THE RAYTHEON COMPANY, INC. Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Eight.
Filed March 8, 2019. (2019 DJDAR 2627)
A hirer of an independent contractor is not liable for the negligence of the independent contractor. In the case of Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689, stands for the general principal that “a hirer of an independent contractor is not liable for the negligence of the independent contractor.” There are two exceptions to the Privette rule and practitioners should know them.
(1) The Hooker exception, Hooker v. Department of Transportation (2002) 27 Cal.4th 198, 202. Hooker provides for hirer liability only when facts are adduced to show that the hirer retains control and when retained control is negligently exercised in a manner that affirmatively contributes to the accident. Specifically, the Privette doctrine allows for liability when the hirer of the independent contractor retains control over safety conditions at the worksite, and negligently exercise that retained control in a manner which affirmatively contributes to the employee’s injuries. The second exception is the Kinsman exception.
(2) In Kinsman v. Unocal Corp. (2005) 37 Cal.4th 659, the Court put forth a second Privette exception and set forth the limited circumstances in which the hirer of an independent contractor can be liable to an employee of that contractor for hazardous conditions of its property, stating that “[A] landowner that hires an independent contractor may be liable to the contractor’s employee if the following conditions are present: the landowner knew, or should have known, of a latent or concealed preexisting hazardous condition on its property, the contractor did not know and could not have reasonably discovered this hazardous condition, and the landowner failed to warn the contractor about this condition.” Id. at 664).