The Year 2010 In Review: Safety and Personal Injury Developments


This article is the eighth, and final, in a series summarizing construction law developments for 2010.

1. Tverberg v. Fillner Construction, Inc., 49 Cal. 4th 518 (June 2010)

The peculiar risk doctrine is a judicially created exception to the common law rule that a person hiring an independent contractor to perform inherently dangerous work is generally not liable to third parties for injuries resulting from the work. Courts initially used the peculiar risk doctrine to impose upon landowners vicarious liability for the acts of their independent contractors when certain third parties – innocent bystanders or neighboring property owners – were injured by the contractors' work. It was not until courts expanded the doctrine to include another category of third parties, the employees of the independent contractors, that the Supreme Court stepped in to curtail the exception. In Privette v. Superior Court, 5 Cal. 4th 689 (1993), the Supreme Court held that a hirer of an independent contractor is not vicariously liable to the employees of the independent contractor for injuries caused by risks inherent in the work the contractor was hired to perform....

2. Miranda v. Bomel Construction Co., 187 Cal. App. 4th 1326 (4th Dist. July 2010)

The plaintiff worked in an office next to a vacant lot, which for several months was used as the location of an uncovered stockpile for dirt excavated from a nearby construction project. Plaintiff contracted Valley Fever and filed a complaint for negligence against the general contractor that created the stockpile. The plaintiff alleged the contractor failed to cover the stockpile or otherwise contain dust from it, and that fungal spores carrying the pathogens that caused Valley Fever were released from the excavated soil that the contractor had negligently stored. The contractor successfully moved for summary judgment on the ground the plaintiff could not establish that the contractor had proximately caused the plaintiff's injury....

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