Plaintiff homeowner sought review of a decision of the Superior Court of San Diego County (California), which sustained without leave to amend demurrers by defendant insurers and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint for recovery for bad faith, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of fiduciary duty on grounds that plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations.
Several months after filing claims for property damage with defendant insurers, plaintiff homeowner filed an action seeking to recover on several theories as a result of defendant insurers and adjuster’s failure to pay plaintiff’s claim. Defendants demurred to plaintiff’s complaint, on grounds that the statute of limitations had expired, and the trial court sustained the demurrers, dismissing the action. On appeal, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Class action defense attorney found that plaintiff’s claims were timely filed due to the nature of the property damage to his home. Further, the court found that the bad faith claims against defendant insurers were proper, but rejected bad faith claim against defendant adjuster because there was no contractual relationship from which either a breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing or a breach of contract action could spring. Claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress were proper against all defendants, but claims for breach of fiduciary duty were not proper because neither defendant insurers or defendant adjuster owed a true fiduciary duty to plaintiff.
The court affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that plaintiff homeowner’s claims were timely filed. The court reversed the trial court’s dismissal as to each claim, except as to plaintiff’s claims for breach of fiduciary duty, which it affirmed because none of the defendants owed a fiduciary duty to plaintiff, and plaintiff’s bad faith claims against defendant adjuster, which it affirmed because no contractual relationship existed.
Plaintiff, decedent’s estate, sought review of the order of the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellant District, granting summary judgment in a tort suit.
Decedent was a crane operator. He was employed by a general contractor hired by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to construct an overpass. Shortly before the fatal accident, decedent retracted the outriggers and left the crane. When decedent returned, he attempted, without first reextending the outriggers, to swing the boom. Decedent was thrown to the pavement and killed. His estate sued Caltrans. The question presented for review was whether the estate of an employee of an independent contractor could sue the hirer of a contractor for the tort of negligent exercise of retained control. Answering in the negative, the appellate court held summary judgment was appropriate. The estate raised triable issues of material fact as to whether Caltrans retained control over safety conditions at the worksite. However, the estate failed to raise triable issues of material fact as to whether Caltrans actually exercised the retained control so as to affirmatively contribute to decedent’s death.
The judgment of the court of appeal was reversed, and the matter remanded for further proceedings.