Lee v. West Kern Water Dist., 5 Cal. App. 5th 606 (2016)

Kathy Lee, an employee of the water district, sued the district and four co-employees for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the co-employees staged a “mock robbery” without Lee’s knowledge and one of them (while wearing a mask) confronted her at the cashier’s window with a note demanding money and saying he had a gun. The jury awarded Lee $360,000. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for a new trial, but the Court of Appeal reversed the order, holding that Lee was not limited to the exclusive remedy provided by workers’ compensation because an exception exists when an employee’s injury is caused by a “willful physical assault” as was the case here. See also Kesner v. Superior Court, 1 Cal. 5th 1132 (2016) (employers and premises owners have a duty to exercise ordinary care to prevent exposure by employee’s household members to asbestos carried by the bodies and clothing of workers who are exposed to asbestos).