Huang v. L.A. Haute, 106 Cal. App. 4th 284 (2003)

Ai Zhen Huang was employed as a housekeeper at the home of Brad Hunter, but was on the payroll of L.A. Haute, a furniture manufacturing business in which Hunter was a partner. Huang was employed for approximately two years before her employment was terminated on April 15, 1999. On August 9, 2000, Huang filed a negligence action against Hunter and L.A. Haute, alleging that on April 14, 1999, the day before her termination, she was injured in a fall from a ladder while washing a high window in Hunter’s house. Since neither Hunter nor L.A. Haute had workers’ compensation insurance, Huang’s lawsuit was authorized under Labor Code § 3706. Following a bench trial, the judge ruled in favor of Hunter and held that Huang did not meet her burden of proof that she was injured on Hunter’s premises or in her employment. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that even though Hunter had no workers’ compensation insurance, Huang retained the burden of proof that her alleged injury occurred in the course of her employment. Cf. Cedillo v. WCAB, 106 Cal. App. 4th 227 (2003) (uninsured, unlicensed contractor, not the homeowner, was the employer of an injured employee).