Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Delgadillo v. Television Center (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 27, 2018)

Luz Delgadillo was a commercial window washer.  He was hired to wash the windows of a three-story commercial building in Hollywood.

He originally thought he'd wash the upper-story windows of the building with a Tucker Pole System, which is a a water-fed pole with an attached brush, or ladders.  But his colleagues noticed that there were wires, lines, and telephone poles on the building’s south side, which risked electrocution.

Probably a good idea.

So Delgadillo and his colleagues went up to the roof.  One side of the building had good anchor points where they could tie up a controlled descent apparatus.  But the other didn't.  So they decided that they'd rappel off the building from the roof using roof anchor points on the first day, and would construct a steel cable tie-back anchor system to which they could connect on the second day.

Okay.  I guess.  Though that doesn't sound perfectly safe.

But better than being electrocuted.

The company's policy was that you had to connect two different lines when rappelling off a building: one primary line and one safety line. But late in the morning, Delgadillo attached his line to only a single connector.

Bad idea.

Oh, yeah, and the single connector he attached to what an angle iron bracket that was supporting the air conditioning unit, which in turn was attached to a small piece of wood.

Horrible idea.

Delgadillo falls to his death.

The lawsuit by his survivors doesn't fare especially well either.  Here's the core holding of the Court of Appeal as to why the trial court properly granted summary judgment to the defendant:

"Plaintiffs contend that TCI had a statutory duty as a building owner to install structural roof anchors to which window washers could attach their controlled descent equipment. They identify several sources for the asserted duty to provide building anchors, including California Code of Regulations, title 8, sections 3281 to 3289; Health and Safety Code section 17920.3; Labor Code sections 7326 to 7329; Los Angeles Municipal Code section 91.8104; and International Window Cleaning Association I-14.1 guidelines, section 3.9. For purposes of this appeal, we assume that these sections required TCI to equip its building with structural roof anchors, and that TCI failed to do so. We nonetheless do not agree that there were triable issues as to whether TCI’s breach of its statutory duties gave rise to liability not barred by the Privette doctrine. To the contrary, SeaBright compels the conclusion that when TCI hired CBS, an independent contractor, to provide window washing services, it delegated to CBS its duty to provide a safe workplace for CBS’s employees. Accordingly, TCI’s alleged breach of a statutory duty to provide safety anchors did not give rise to rise to liability to decedent or his survivors."

A bad situation all around for Mr. Delgadillo.