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Does the Privette doctrine, which applies when hiring independent contractors, have exceptions?



DMP argued that it owed the plaintiff no duty of care in connection with his work for ACS, that it did not know about any alleged hazardous condition, that the access panel was not a concealed hazardous condition, and that ACS and its employees reasonably could have discovered the panel.

Privette doctrine’s exception inapplicable

The trial court issued summary judgment in DMP’s favor. It accepted that there was a triable factual issue about whether DMP employees knew or should have known that there was a “hatch door” in the ceiling of the storage room.

However, the trial court found that the Kinsman exception to the Privette doctrine did not apply. There was no evidence that the DMP employees knew that the hatch could have been an access point to the crawl space or could pose a hazard to the ACS employees, the trial court said.

In the case of Blaylock v. DMP 250 Newport Center et al, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District, Third Division affirmed the trial court’s judgment, which found the Kinsman exception inapplicable. The evidence might show that DMP should have known about the access panel’s existence, the appellate court acknowledged.

However, the evidence did not create triable factual issues on whether DMP knew or reasonably should have known that the access panel’s status as a trapdoor amounted to a concealed hazard for the ACS workers on its premises or whether ACS reasonably could have discovered that hazard, the appellate court added.

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