Supreme Court will decide homeowner liability for injury to independent contractor’s employee
May 18, 2018
At its Wednesday conference, the Supreme Court granted the petition for review in Gonzalez v. Mathis. The justices will be taking a look at the published opinion in that case by the Second District, Division Seven, which reversed a summary judgment against a window washer who fell off the roof of the defendant homeowner’s house while cleaning a skylight. As stated by Supreme Court staff, the issue is, “Can a homeowner who hires an independent contractor be held liable in tort for injury sustained by the contractor’s employee when the homeowner does not retain control over the worksite and the hazard causing the injury was known to the contractor?”
Other conference actions of note include:
- The court issued a grant-and-hold order in an anti-SLAPP case, Duchan v. Los Angeles Unified School District. The Second District, Division Two, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed the granting of an anti-SLAPP motion. The case is on hold for Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc., which presents the issue: In deciding whether an employee’s claims for discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and defamation arise from protected activity for purposes of a special motion to strike (Code of Civ. Proc., § 425.16), what is the relevance of an allegation that the employer acted with a discriminatory or retaliatory motive? Wilson itself was a grant-and-hold case, until the court un-held it last July.
- The court issued an order to show cause, returnable in the superior court, in In re Hawthorne, a death penalty habeas corpus proceeding that was started in 2009, the same year the court affirmed the death sentence on direct appeal. The court denied all the habeas petition claims, except for whether trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase by failing to investigate petitioner’s social history and to present the testimony of mental health experts and a social historian.
- The court depublished the opinion in People v. Landaverde, at the request of 30 different public and private entities. The Second District, Division Eight, in a now-unprecedential opinion, rejected a defendant’s attempt to vacate a 1998 guilty plea on grounds his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel was violated by his trial counsel’s failure to research and advise him of the immigration consequences of the plea.
- The court depublished the opinion in In re J.G., where the Fourth District, Division One, held a dependency court abused its discretion in ordering children “to remain with a caregiver [an aunt] who failed to provide adequate food to them.”
- The court vacated submission and ordered supplemental briefing in three consolidated Proposition 47 cases that were argued in March — People v. Buycks, People v. Valenzuela, and In re Guiomar.
- The court made four grant-and-hold orders in criminal cases.
At the Lectern