Sacramento, CA - Television Center, Inc. (TCI) owns a three-story commercial building located in Hollywood, California. In 2011, TCI contracted with Chamberlin Building Services (CBS), a licensed contractor, to wash the building's windows. Decedent Salvador Franco, worked as a supervisor/window cleaner for CBS.
CBS and its employees made all decisions about how the window-washing would be accomplished. The window-washing equipment used on the job was owned, inspected, and maintained by CBS.
It was CBS's policy that two connectors were required when rappelling off a building: one primary line and one safety line. However, late in the morning of the first day of this contract, Franco attached his line to only a single connector - an angle iron bracket supporting the air conditioning unit on the roof, attached to a small piece of wood - which was not an acceptable anchor point. The bracket to which he attached his line failed, and Franco fell to his death.
Plaintiffs Luz Elena Delgadillo, Christian Franco, and Valeria Franco are the surviving wife and children, respectively, of Salvador Franco. Decedent's family received workers' compensation benefits following his death.
Plaintiffs sued TCI for negligence and negligence per se, alleging that decedent was fatally injured because TCI failed to install structural roof anchors,in violation of sections 7325 through 7332 of the Labor Code, and section 3286, subdivision (a)(4), of title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, giving rise to causes of action for negligence and negligence per se.
TCI moved for summary judgment, contending that plaintiffs' suit was barred by Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 (Privette) and subsequent cases. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for TCI.
The "Privette doctrine" holds that when a property owner hires an independent contractor, the property owner is not liable for injuries sustained by the contractor's employees unless the owner's affirmative conduct contributed to the injuries.
In the present case, the undisputed evidence was that TCI did not direct how the window washing should be done nor otherwise interfere with the means or methods of accomplishing the work.