Musgrove v. Silver, 82 Cal. App. 5th 694 (2022)

As part of an entourage of family and friends, a Hollywood producer (Joel Silver) brought his executive assistant (who was employed through Silver’s company) as well as a French chef Silver personally employed to a luxurious resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia to attend the August 2015 wedding of actress Jennifer Aniston.  Tragically, the executive assistant (Carmel Musgrove) drowned when she went for a midnight swim in the lagoon outside her overwater bungalow.  The drowning was accidental and related to Musgrove’s ingestion of alcohol and cocaine in the hours prior to the swim.  Musgrove’s parents sued Silver on the theory that he was (1) directly liable because he paid all resort-related expenses of the trip, including for the alcohol Musgrove had ingested; and (2) vicariously liable because he employed the chef who had met up with Musgrove for a “late-night rendezvous” during which she drank half a bottle of wine and snorted a “significant amount of cocaine” before drowning.

The trial court granted Silver’s motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal, holding that Silver was not liable under either theory.  The appellate court agreed with the trial court that Silver had no “special relationship” that would legally obligate him to assume control of Musgrove’s safety and welfare during the trip; moreover, the Court affirmed the trial court’s determination that the chef’s conduct was outside the scope of his employment with Silver.  See also Colonial Van & Storage, Inc. v. Superior Court, 76 Cal. App. 5th 487 (2022) (employer is not liable for gunshot injuries employees suffered while attending an off-site meeting at a private residence of a coworker); McCullar v. SMC Contracting, Inc., 2022 WL 181422 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) (employee of subcontractor may not sue contractor for injuries incurred on the job).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.