LOS ANGELES (Nov. 2, 2022) – In a win for nationwide insurance and civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP, a motion for summary judgment has been granted by Superior Court of Los Angeles County Judge Mark E. Windham in favor of Hill Contractors 1 (DBA “the Hill Co.”), a general contracting company which was being held liable after a carpenter was injured when he fell while working on a 25-foot-tall concrete column that formed part of a parking structure (Johnson v the Hill Co.).
According to Molly Gilardi, a Northern California-based Tyson & Mendes Special Counsel who co-defended the case, the plaintiff was employed as a union carpenter for subcontractor Guy Yocom Construction (GYC), but instead sued defendant Hill Contractors 1, which was the general contractor and hirer of his employer, asserting causes of action for negligence and premises liability and seeking upward of $10 million.
“At the time of the incident, the plaintiff was attached to a column by a harness,” Gilardi said. “The plaintiff alleged that our client’s negligence caused the column to be released before it was properly braced to the ground, causing it to lean. As a result, the plaintiff fell onto the second floor of the parking structure and the column – weighing about 2,000 lbs. – fell onto him, resulting in multiple injuries.”
The lawsuit alleged, among other things, that Hill was responsible for “overseeing and supervising the overall management of the construction at the Subject Project” and “developing and enforcing safety policies at the Subject Property and [was] responsible for notifying any subcontractors of any deficiencies in the safe operation of the construction site.” As a result, the plaintiff claimed a statutory duty was owed by Hill.
The Tyson & Mendes defense team, which also included Orange County Managing Partner Richard Somes and Senior Counsel Derek Earley, employed themes of reasonableness and common sense and pointed to relevant case law when seeking a motion to dismiss the case. For example, while safety regulations under Cal-OSHA create a duty by a hirer to protect its own employees, it does not prevent a hirer from delegating such duties to an independent contractor with respect to its employees.
“At Tyson & Mendes, we live by the principle: Justice for All,” said Earley. “This includes businesses such as Hill Contractors 1, which was the general contractor on the project at the center of this lawsuit. Our Supreme Court has been very consistent in stating ‘when employees of independent contractors are injured in the workplace, they cannot sue the party that hired the contractor to do the work.’ (SeaBright Ins. Co. v. US Airways, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal.4th 590, 594.) We are gratified Judge Mark Windham applied the law to the facts and thereby reaffirmed the ability of California’s general contractors to operate without the fear of unlimited exposure for workplace injuries suffered by anyone who works on a project.”
“Tyson & Mendes prides itself on being team oriented, and this win is another great example of our firm-wide collaborative culture. Molly and Derek are tremendous assets and I congratulate them on helping our clients avoid a potential Nuclear Verdict with this outstanding result,” said Somes.
Tyson & Mendes is celebrating 20 years of protecting its clients’ interests and delivering justice both inside and outside the courtroom. The firm has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and reducing the likelihood of Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $667 million in 2021, and $611 million thus far in 2022.
For more information and to view career opportunities, visit www.tysonmendes.com.
About Tyson & Mendes LLP
Celebrating 20 years of taking back justice for all, Tyson & Mendes LLP is a nationwide, AV-rated litigation and trial firm specializing in insurance defense and protecting its clients from Nuclear Verdicts®. Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes founded the firm in 2002 to defend corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters. The firm has experienced tremendous growth in the past two decades, with offices across the U.S. serving clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Robert Tyson is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller Nuclear Verdicts®: Defending Justice for All, the first playbook for the defense on how to avoid runaway jury verdicts.
For more information, visit www.tysonmendes.com.