(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
G. Universal Fails to Negate Plaintiffs’ Premises Liability Claims
Universal fails to show any lack of proof that it: (1) required the use of any asbestos-containing products at the West Facility; (2) managed the operative details of David Plaza’s work such that the asbestos-containing dust on his person and clothes exposed Tina Gomez to asbestos; (3) negligently failed to warn or abate concealed hazards; or (4) negligently hired or managed other workers that negligently handled asbestos-containing materials.
Universal ignores that it owned and operated the West Facility when David Plaza performed brake work, which inevitably included the removal and installation of asbestos-containing brakes, at that store during 1981 through March 1982. As Universal’s PMK and counsel readily admit, Universal controlled the operative details of the work at the West Facility when that store was company owned. Thus, triable factual issues exist as to whether Universal is liable for negligently: (1) exercising the control it retained of the work at the West Facility that eventually exposed Tina Gomez to asbestos; and (2) failing to warn of or abate concealed asbestos-related defects. [Kinsman v. Unocal Corp. (2005) 37 Cal.4th 659; Grahn v. Tosco Corp. (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1373.]
Even if the West Facility was a Universal franchise, Universal controlled the operative details of the work at the West Facility. This includes store cleanliness and the ongoing training of automotive technicians, as well as the use of certain types of equipment in operating their stores. Universal franchises, like the West Facility, provided brake services and Universal provided its franchises with an approved list of suppliers of asbestos-containing brakes. It was more likely than not that the franchisees ordered products from Universal-approved distributors. Finally, Edwin Ferguson’s assertion that Universal did not and had no reason to know of any potential hazardous condition on the West Facility lacks foundation and is not based on personal knowledge. He does not even recall whether the property on West Avenue contained a pre-existing store or if it was an empty lot. His duties also did not require him inspect the West Facility for any hazardous condition. (See Part 14 of 14.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.