Caso v. Nimrod Productions, Inc., 163 Cal App. 4th 881 (2008)

Christopher Caso, a professional stuntman, suffered severe head injuries while performing a stunt during the production of a television show. Caso and his wife (who sought damages for loss of consortium) sued defendants (the director and the stunt coordinators and their respective loan-out corporations) for negligence. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the ground that the individual defendants were special employees of Touchstone Television Productions who had been acting within the scope of that employment at the time of the accident. Accordingly, the Casos’ lawsuit was barred by the California Workers’ Compensation Act, Cal. Labor Code § 3601. Further, the trial court concluded the loan-out corporations had relinquished all control over their employees and could not be held vicariously liable for the employees’ acts. The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendants. See also Antelope Valley Press v. Poizner, 162 Cal App. 4th 839 (2008) (newspaper deliverers were employees and not independent contractors for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage); Tomlin v. WCAB, 162 Cal. App. 4th 1423 (2008) (police officer who was injured while training during his vacation for an upcoming department physical fitness test was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits); Golden v. CH2M Hill Hanford Group, Inc., 528 F.3d 681 (9th Cir. 2008) (Price- Anderson Act preempted Hanford Nuclear Reservation employee’s claim for injuries arising from exposure to radioactive materials but his claim for emotional distress associated with exposure to non-radioactive heavy metals would not be preempted); cf. Ericson v. Federal Express Corp., 162 Cal. App. 4th 1291 (2008) (property owner was not liable for injuries sustained by employee of independent contractor who was injured during assault on the premises).