Khosh, Al v. Staples Construction Company

Oct 27, 2016 – California Court of Appeal, Second District, Los Angeles, CA

Yukevich | Cavanaugh prevailed on appeal in Khosh v. Staples Construction Co., the most recent certified and published decision further supporting defendant general contractor’s rights under the Privette Doctrine.

The case involved 58-year old Al Khosh, a 20-year veteran electrical engineer.  Mr. Khosh, who accessed an electrical sub-station at Cal State Channel Islands two hours earlier than the scheduled shut-down, sustained third-degree burns to 50% of his body, including his face, neck, torso and bi-lateral upper and lower extremities.  In addition, Khosh sustained an electrocution injury and went into cardiac arrest.  Khosh claimed more than $5.5 million in past medical expenses..

The defendants in the case included Cal State Channel Islands, where the accident occurred, and Staples Construction Co. (“Staples”), the general contractor on the project.  Staples retained sub-contractor DK Electric, a high-voltage electrical contractor,  retained by Meyers Electrical, another specialized electrical sub-contractor, who ultimately employed Khosh.

Early in the case, Yukevich | Cavanaugh filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of Staples.  The motion asserted that Staples was not liable under the Privette doctrine, which provides that a general contractor cannot be held liable for the injury of an employee of a sub-contractor where the general contractor does not control the work done by the employee or affirmatively contribute to the employee’s injury.  Staples motion for summary judgment presented undisputed evidence that Staples did not control Mr. Khosh’s work, and did not affirmatively contribute to his injuries.  On October 13, 2015, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent J. O’Neal granted Staples’ motion for summary judgment.  Mr. Khosh appealed the judgment, and the matter was argued before the Court of Appeals on September 14, 2016. 

The Second District Division Six of the California Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in favor of Staples on October 27, 2016.  The Court held that, as matter of law, the defendant general contractor did not “affirmatively contribute” to work-related injuries sustained by the plaintiff, a sub-contractor of a sub-contractor.  The court specified that the plaintiff could not recover under the Privette Doctrine, which bars claims brought by an injured subcontractor against his/her hirer arising from a work related accident.  The court also noted that Staples did not retain control of nor did Staples breach any non-delegable duty owed to Khosh.