A California appellate court recently reversed a trial court’s order granting summary judgment to a defendant employer in a workplace negligence action. The Fourth District Court of Appeals reasoned that it could not state as a matter of law that the employee was not on a business errand while commuting from his home to the employer’s yard.
In October 2010, the employer employed the worker as a cement/mason finisher. His job duties entailed setting forms, placing concrete, and smoothing it out once it set. He received an hourly wage for an eight-hour shift, which began and ended at the job site where he performed his work. The employer had a contract to install a new center median at a job site on the 710 freeway.
In October 2013, a victim’s car collided with an off-duty ambulance. The victim suffered a traumatic brain injury, along with other injuries. The victim’s infant daughter brought suit for loss of parental consortium against a number of defendants. The defendants demurred to her claim on the ground that a loss of consortium claim may not be maintained by a minor for injuries to a parent, pursuant to California precedent. The trial court sustained the demurrers without leave to amend and dismissed the complaint. The child appealed. Reasoning that it was bound by the principles of stare decisis, the California Appeals Court for the Second Appellate District affirmed the lower court’s decision.
The appeal concerned a single question: whether California should reconsider a long-standing precedent established by the California Supreme Court in 1977 in Borer v. American Airlines. In Borer, the state high court declined to recognize a child’s cause of action for the loss of parental consortium. Then, a mother was injured by a falling light fixture in an airline terminal. Her children brought suit against American Airlines for the loss of her services, affection, guidance, and companionship. The lower court sustained the airline’s demurrer to the complaint, and the appeals court affirmed.