Brad Bleichner and Karen Goldberg Team Up for a Double Victory with Two Summary Judgment Wins in the Same Case
July 26, 2012
Brad Bleichner and Karen Goldberg, with a large assist from Marla Almazan, had the unique opportunity to have two separate Summary Judgment motions granted on the same day in a living mesothelioma case filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Selman Breitman LLP represented two general contractors C.W. Driver and Robt. W. Stanhope Co. in the same case. The plaintiff claimed he was exposed to asbestos while working as a wall covering salesman on several C.W. Driver and Robt. W. Stanhope Co. construction sites in Southern California throughout the 1960's and 1970's. Under a somewhat creative theory, plaintiff claimed that as the general contractors on various jobsites C.W. Driver and Robt. W. Stanhope owed a non-delegable duty to the plaintiff to protect him from hazardous conditions on the jobsites. In this case, the hazardous condition was alleged to be the use of asbestos containing products by subcontractors, as part of commercial construction. They also alleged that because plaintiff was a salesman and not a subcontractor, these general contractors did not have the same protections available when the employee of a subcontractor suffers an injury. Therefore, they claimed C.W. Driver and Robt. W. Stanhope were responsible for plaintiff's disease.
A summary judgment motion was brought on behalf of each general contractor under Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 and its progeny arguing that C.W. Driver or Robt. W. Stanhope did not retain control over its subcontractors and the products they used nor did they affirmatively contribute to Mr. Smith's Injuries. At the hearing, Brad Bleichner argued, and the court agreed, that there was no triable issue as to causation because plaintiffs could not demonstrate that C.W. Driver or Robt. W. Stanhope retained control over its subcontractors such that the Privette doctrine would not apply. In addition, the Court agreed that this doctrine applied to not only subcontractors, but also to other workers on the jobsite. Thus, summary judgment was granted and entered on behalf of both C.W. Driver and Robt. W. Stanhope.