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Zaragoza v. Ibarra

June 8, 2009; as modified June 30, 2009

ELIAZAR ZARAGOZA, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
MARIA IBARRA, DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT.



Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court of Orange County, Steven L. Perk, Judge. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. No. 06CC07780).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sills, P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

This appeal arises out of a common scenario: A worker hired by an unlicensed contractor on a home remodeling project is injured while working on the job. When the worker has worked less than 52 hours in the 90 days prior to the accident, the law is clear that any claim the worker has against the homeowner for the injury is outside the workers‟ compensation system. However, the worker may bring a claim against the homeowner in simple negligence, if there is any.

In this case, however, undisputed facts show that there wasn‟t any negligence. The worker‟s injury was entirely his own fault, and there was no want of ordinary care taken by the homeowner. Hence summary judgment was properly granted, and we affirm.

I. FACTS

A. Facts Relating to the Workers‟ Compensation Question

In early November of 2004, Maria Ibarra engaged Claudio Quiroz to construct four rooms and two bathrooms on her premises. There is no dispute that Quiroz was an unlicensed contractor.

Quiroz, in turn, hired Eliazar Zaragoza to assist in the construction.*fn1

Zaragoza normally works at Taco Bell. Zaragoza‟s first day of work on the job was in late March 2005. His brief asserts that he was paid $100 for his work that day, but the fact is not record referenced.

Zaragoza's second day on the job was the day of the accident, April 18, 2005. No instructions or other communications were given to him that morning. He simply arrived at work and he and another worker, Mauricio Canongo (Quiroz‟s brother-in-law), set out to remove stucco from the upper portion of Ibarra‟s garage walls. The accident happened in the course of removing the stucco.

There was already a private residence at that address on the day of the accident. Ibarra was living there. She was, however, not home at the time of the accident.

B. Facts Relating to Zaragoza‟s Tort Claim

Zaragoza got a one-sided, metallic, two-legged ladder that he found in the garage and set it up against one of the walls, the legs standing one foot away from the wall. There was dirt on the ground between the wall and the legs of the ladder. Zaragoza and Canongo soon found ...


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