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Appellate Court Update for September 2023

Contractor liability Generally, a worker injured on the job may only sue his or her employer for workers’ compensation benefits; the business which hired the employer usually may not be held liable for the workers’ injuries except under specific circumstances. In this case, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the so-called Privette doctrine which holds that a hirer generally delegates to an independent contractor all responsibility for workplace safety and is not liable for injuries sustained by the contractor or its workers while on the job. Two exceptions apply to the Privette doctrine: 1) where the hirer retained control over the subcontractor’s work; and 2) where the hazard was concealed. Miller v. Roseville Lodge No. 1293, 2022 WL 4007324, published Sept. 29, 2022

Arbitration In employment and consumer arbitration contracts, California’s Code of Civil Procedure §1281.97, which became effective Jan. 1, 2020, requires the party who drafted the arbitration agreement to pay the fees of the arbitrator within 30 days after the arbitrator provides an invoice. The Second District Court of Appeal found that an employer who failed to timely pay the arbitrator’s fees was in material breach of the arbitration contract and that plaintiff could therefore proceed to trial in the Superior Court. Espinoza v. Superior Court, 2022 WL 4480057, published Sept. 27, 2022

Medical malpractice, statute of limitations Where reasonable minds could differ as to when plaintiff should have become reasonably suspicious that medical negligence caused the death of her in-utero baby, it was error for the trial court to hold that plaintiff’s claim was time barred and to grant summary judgment. Kernan v. Regents of University of California, 2022 WL 4363156, published Aug. 29, 2022

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