A Riveting (or at Least Insightful) Explanation of the Privette Doctrine

Businesswoman sitting on steps

Qualcomm attorneys petition the California Supreme Court for review of the Court of Appeal’s decision.

May 2, 2022
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

“The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine” – Plutarch

And grind they do . . . slowly. For long time readers of the California Construction Law Blog you may recall a case we reported on over three years ago in 2018 – Sandoval v. Qualcomm Incorporated – a rather sad case about a severely injured employee of an electrical subcontractor with an even more surprisingly ending.

In Sandoval, the 4th District Court of Appeals affirmed a $7 million judgment against project owner Qualcomm Incorporated in which a jury found that Qualcomm was liable under the Privette doctrine for injuries sustained by the employee who was severely burned over one third of his body by an “arc flash” from a live circuit breaker. The Court of Appeals, in a surprising decision, upheld the verdict holding that Qualcomm was liable even through: (1) Qualcomm had informed the electrical subcontractor that certain live circuit breakers were energized; (2) Qualcomm had not authorized the lower-tiered contractor to remove a panel that resulted in the arc flash; and (3) employees of Qualcomm were not in the room when the accident happened.

Fast forward three years to September 2021. Qualcomm attorneys petition the California Supreme Court for review of the Court of Appeal’s decision. And the Supreme Court granted review.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at gmurai@nomosllp.com



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