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Mata v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

California Court of Appeal, First District, Third Division

February 28, 2014

Amparo Rivera MATA et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Superior Court of Marin County, No. CV 083558, Lynn Duryee, Judge. (Marin County Super. Ct. No. CV 083558).

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COUNSEL

[168 Cal.Rptr.3d 570] Counsel for Plaintiffs and Appellants: Gerald Peters.

Counsel for Defendant and Respondent Pacific Gas and Electric Company: Kenneth E. Lee, Sedgwick LLP, Gayle L. Gough, Kirk C. Jenkins, Kristie A. Tappan, San Francisco

Counsel for Defendant and Respondent The Davey Tree Expert Company: Nixon Peabody LLP, Robert M. Blum, Aldo E. Ibarra, San Francisco.

OPINION

Pollak, Acting P.J.

Plaintiffs are the heirs of Carlos Rivera Olvera (decedent) who, while trimming a redwood tree on September 18, 2007, was electrocuted by a high voltage power line of defendant Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG & E). Defendant The Davey Tree Expert Company is a vegetation pre-inspection contractor tat contracted with PG & E to perform inspections to ensure that proper clearances were maintained between PG & E power lines and surrounding vegetation. Plaintiffs' complaint alleged several causes of action against PG & E and The Davey Tree Expert Company and other defendants, many of which have been resolved by summary adjudication or settlement.

What remains and is now before us is the trial court's order dismissing causes of action against both defendants for negligence and against PG & E for premises liability, which claims are based on the allegation that defendants " negligently, carelessly, recklessly, or in some other actionable manner, failed to inspect the power lines and trees in the vicinity of the power lines, and failed to maintain an adequate clearance of the power lines, so that the branches of the trees on the premises had grown above and around the 12,000-volt line. Said [defendants] knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that the conditions constituted a dangerous condition and unreasonable risk of harm to those who would foreseeably be on the premises and in the vicinity of the trees and power lines, and that the danger would not be apparent to people such as the decedent." The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss " because this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under Public Utilities Code section ยง 1759." [1] Plaintiffs have timely appealed.[2]

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Background


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