Baptist v. Robinson, 2006 WL 2699181 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006)

While riding his motorcycle, Ronald Baptist struck a large plastic agricultural bin that had fallen onto the highway from the back of a pickup truck that was owned and driven by Thomas Robinson. Robinson was employed by Thomas Fogarty Winery and had, without the winery’s knowledge or permission, borrowed and was transporting the bin on his own time and for his own benefit – to pick up grapes to make wine for himself. Baptist filed a personal injury action against Robinson and the winery, and Robinson filed a cross complaint for indemnity and contribution against the winery. The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of the winery, concluding that the winery was not vicariously liable for Baptist’s injuries since Robinson had not been acting within the course and scope of employment, nor had it been directly negligent with respect to its control over the bin that Robinson had borrowed. Cf. Pettigrew v. WCAB, 2006 WL 2729667 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006) (state correctional officer was not acting within the course of his employment for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage when he was injured while providing assistance at an accident scene on the way to work).