California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County
No. BC538128. Holly Fujie, Judge. Affirmed.
Offices of Richard Devirian and Richard C. Devirian; Esner,
Chang & Boyer and Stuart B. Esner for Plaintiff and
Wootton, Lerner, Griffin & Hansen, Richard C. Wootton,
Mitchell S. Griffin and Marc A. Centor for Defendants and
SORTINO, J. [*]
and appellant Bernie Alvarez was injured at work when he
drove a maintenance van into a shipping container.
Plaintiff's employer, Pacific Crane Maintenance Company
(PCMC), had been hired by Evergreen Container Terminal
(Evergreen) to perform maintenance work at a marine container
terminal. Plaintiff sued Evergreen and two of its contractors
alleging general negligence.
trial court granted summary judgment to defendants based on
the Privette doctrine. Under Privette v.
Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 (Privette),
an independent contractor's employee generally may not
recover tort damages for work-related injuries from the
contractor's hirer. On appeal, plaintiff argues that (1)
defendants did not meet their burden as the moving parties on
summary judgment, and (2) he raised triable issues of
material fact as to whether the Privette doctrine
did not apply because defendants retained control over safety
conditions at the worksite and affirmatively contributed to
his injuries. We disagree and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
leases a marine container terminal in the Port of Los Angeles
(Evergreen Terminal). Evergreen contracted with Marine
Terminals Corporation dba Ports America (Ports America),
Seaside Transportation Services, LLC (Seaside), and PCMC to
provide services at the terminal.
contract with Evergreen provides that “PCMC shall
exercise reasonable care and use its best efforts to prevent
accidents, injury, or damages to its employees.... PCMC
shall have an active[, ] ongoing safety program and shall
comply with all applicable safety rules, applicable laws,
ordinances, and regulations.” The contract does not
address any obligation on Evergreen's part to ensure safe
conditions at the worksite.
worked for PCMC for 13 years as a marine mechanic. He was
required to watch a training video on general safety once a
year. The video warned workers that 45-foot shipping
containers may be located next to 40-foot containers at the
terminal. Plaintiff was also verbally informed of this
March 11, 2012, at about 6:15 p.m., plaintiff was inspecting
chassis at the Evergreen Terminal while driving a maintenance
van past a row of 40-foot shipping containers. It was light
out. As he was driving, he was glancing to his right to check
dates written on chassis. He was driving nine to ten miles
per hour when he collided with a 45-foot container. The
45-foot container was protruding into the driving lane by
over seven feet.
time of the accident, plaintiff did not know he had been
injured and continued to work for three weeks. He later
became aware of injuries to his right shoulder, lower back,
and knees. On March 3, 2014, he filed a complaint for general
negligence against Evergreen, Seaside, and Ports America.
moved for summary judgment arguing they were not liable for
plaintiff's workplace injuries under the
Privette doctrine. In opposition, plaintiff did not
address the Privette doctrine but argued that the
45-foot container's partial obstruction of the driving
lane violated the Pacific Coast Marine Safety Code (Marine
trial court granted summary judgment, holding that
“Defendants have satisfied their burden to show that
there is no triable issue of material fact and Defendants are
entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, pursuant to
the Privette doctrine.... Privette and its
progeny establish that the hirer of an independent contractor
presumptively delegates to that contractor its duty to
provide a safe workplace for the contractor's
employees.... Plaintiff has provided no evidence showing that
Defendants retained control ...