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Liability for an Independent Contractor's Employee Addressed, Plus Legal Malpractice Case

By FindLaw Staff on March 31, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Seabright Ins. Co. v. U.S. Airways, Inc., No. A123726, involved an insurer's subrogation action against the city and county of San Francisco arising from injuries suffered by an employee of an independent contractor working with U.S. Airways to provide preventive maintenance and repair services at the Airport.  In reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the court held that the hirer can be liable to the employee of a contractor if the hirer breaches a nondelegable duty imposed by statute or regulation and the breach affirmatively contributes to the employee's injury.  Here, the applicable regulations imposed a nondelegable duty to provide guarding for the conveyors and U.S. Airways has not shown that there is no triable issue as to whether it affirmatively contributed to the employee's injuries.

In Landmark Screens, LLC v. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, No. H033285, the Sixth District faced a challenge to the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's legal malpractice suit involving a patent prosecution for an electronic billboard.  In affirming the dismissal and the sustaining of a demurrer in favor of the defendants, the court held that this action should be adjudicated in federal court as there are substantial patent questions presented in the element of causation and damages and there is no other viable avenue of relief through reliance on the prospect of alternative theories for recovery of damages.

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