Ramirez v. PK I Plaza 580 SC LP

Facts: An independent contractor is hired by a commercial tenant to remove a sign from the roof of the leased premises as required by the lease agreement with the landlord. The lease agreement states the tenant is financially responsible for the sign’s removal, and makes no reference to hiring independent contractors to perform the removal.  The tenant hires an independent contractor to remove the sign, during which removal the contractor is injured in a fall. The independent contractor makes a demand on the landlord to recover their losses due to the injuries.

Claim: The independent contractor claims the landlord is liable since they were not employed by the landlord and the landlord did not authorize the tenant to hire an independent contractor.

Counterclaim: The landlord claims they are not liable for the injuries since the responsibility for the safety of the contractor is with the contractor, not the landlord or the tenant.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the landlord can be held liable for the independent contractor’s losses since the landlord does not have an employment relationship, directly or indirectly through authorization to the tenant, with the independent contractor. [Ramirez v. PK I Plaza 580 SC LP (2022) 85 CA5th 252]

Ramirez v. PK I Plaza 580 SC LP

Editor’s note – This case is decided on a narrow doctrine which is not the only theory the landlord may pursue to avoid liability. Stay tuned to the firsttuesday journal for updates to this case as it is brought before the California Supreme Court.



Related Reading:

Property Management Chapter 37: Care and maintenance of property