San Francisco Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Defense in Workplace Injury Case: Tyson & Mendes Wins Motion for Summary Judgment via Privette Doctrine

San Francisco Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Defense in Workplace Injury Case: Tyson & Mendes Wins Motion for Summary Judgment via Privette Doctrine

San Francisco (February 9, 2024)Marking a major victory for nationwide insurance and civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP, the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal affirmed a motion for summary judgment in favor of Balfour Beatty Construction Company. The trial court had agreed the contractor was not responsible for the injuries sustained by a sub-contractor employee at a large construction project (Elizondo v. Balfour Beatty Construction Company, Inc.).

According to James Sell, the Managing Partner of Tyson & Mendes’ Northern California office, who defended the case along with Senior Counsel Gregory Mase, the plaintiff was an employee of a sub-contractor when he was injured at a job site after placing his ladder atop a temporary cover to a hole.

“We moved for summary judgment based on the Privette doctrine, which holds that owners and general contractors are generally not liable for injuries to the employees of subcontractors. The trial court granted our motion. The plaintiff appealed that decision by attempting to invoke the Hooker exemption to Privette, claiming Balfour had retained control of portions of his work, affirmatively contributing to his injury,” said Sell.

In a separate recent win for Tyson & Mendes, the First District Court of Appeal issued a published decision delineating the guardrails as to when this exception to the Privette doctrine applies. That decision established helpful authority for contractors and their attorneys across the state, and the firm’s specialized expertise in Privette issues proved helpful in the Balfour matter as well.

Mase said the team relied on Tyson and Mendes’ key themes of responsibility, common sense, and reasonableness to secure a favorable outcome on appeal in this case.

“Our team was able to show the appeal had no merit. We established that Balfour had delegated the responsibility of job site safety to the plaintiff’s employer. Thus, the plaintiff was only entitled to the workers’ compensation benefits he received after the accident. We sympathize with the injuries sustained by the plaintiff in this matter, but we are grateful the Court of Appeals agreed this claim was meritless,” said Mase.

Serving 21 states nationwide, Tyson & Mendes is one of the fastest growing civil defense firms in the U.S. and is proud to offer one of the fastest and clearest paths to partnership of any mid-sized law firm in the U.S. The firm is honored to be recognized perennially on Best Lawyers’ Best Law Firms lists, awarded the No. 1 “Ceiling Smasher” in Law360’s 2022 Glass Ceiling Report for female equity partnership, and shortlisted for Financial Times’ 2022 Innovative Lawyers North America Award.

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About Tyson & Mendes LLP
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, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.


Media Contact:

Molly Pincherli/Jean Walcher, J. Walcher Communications /, 619-295-7140




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