Ultrahazardous Activities

“The theory of imposition of strict liability for ultrahazardous activity is that the danger cannot be eliminated through the use of care . . . Where the activity is dangerous only if insufficient care is exercised, ordinary rules of fault are sufficient for allocation of the risk. There is no need for liability without proof of fault, because definitionally if there is damage it will have resulted from negligence and will be compensable.” (Edwards v. Post Transportation Co. (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 980, 987.)

Elements

Strict liability may be imposed on one who:

  1. carries on ultrahazardous activity that
  2. proximately causes damage to another.

(Edwards v. Post Transportation Co. (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 980, 983.)

Factors for Determining “Ultrahazardous”

“An activity is ultrahazardous if it

  1. necessarily involves a risk of serious harm to the person, land or chattels of others which cannot be eliminated by the exercise of the utmost care, and
  2. is not a matter of common usage.”

(Edwards v. Post Transportation Co. (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 980, 983.)

Factors bearing on whether an activity is ultrahazardous are:

  1. existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to the person or property of others;
  2. likelihood that harm from the activity will be great;
  3. inability to eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable care;
  4. extent to which the activity is not a matter of common usage;
  5. inappropriateness of the activity to the place where it is carried on; and
  6. extent to which the value of the activity to the community is outweighed by its dangerous attributes.

(Edwards, supra, 228 Cal.App.3d at p. 985.)

An activity is a matter of “common usage” if customarily carried on by the great mass of mankind or by many people in the community. (Ahrens v. Superior Court (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 1134, 1143.)

Examples of ultrahazardous activities include using hydrocyanic acid gas in fumigating commercial buildings (Luthringer, supra, 31 Cal.2d at p. 498), test-firing a large, solid-fuel rocket motor (Smith v. Lockheed Propulsion Co. (1967) 247 Cal.App.2d 774, 785), oil well drilling (Green v. General Petroleum Corp. (1928) 205 Cal. 328), and using explosives in the vicinity of a residential area (Balding v. D.B. Stutsman, Inc. (1966) 246 Cal.App.2d 559, 564).

Whether an activity is “ultrahazardous” for strict liability purposes is a question of law for the court to decide. (Luthringer v. Moore (1948) 31 Cal.2d 489, 496.)

Useful Rulings on Ultrahazardous Activities

Recent Rulings on Ultrahazardous Activities

PRICE V. NORTHERN TRUST CO.

As to the third cause of action for strict liability is sustained with leave to amend. Plaintiffs have failed to allege that this moving defendant engaged in an ultrahazardous activity that caused the Plaintiffs to be harmed. As to the fourth cause of action for res ipsa loquitor negligence is overruled.

  • Hearing

NAUTILUS INSURANCE COMPANY VS TRIMAC TRANSPORTATION SOUTH, INC.

The Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) negligence; (2) negligence per se; (3) trespass; (4) permanent private nuisance; (5) permanent public nuisance; (6) continuing private nuisance; (7) continuing public nuisance; (8) unfair competition; and (9) strict liability for ultrahazardous materials. Prospective Intervenor moves the Court to intervene and for a stay to file a Complaint against Defendant. Defendant opposes the motion. The Court has considered the motion and opposition.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

  • Judge

    Maurice A. Leiter or Salvatore Sirna

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

KENNETH JOHNSON, AN INDIVIDUAL,, ET AL. VS SONY PICTURES TELEVISION, INC. A DELAWARE CORPORATION, ET AL.

The Court finds sufficient facts have been alleged to state a cause of action for strict liability based on Defendants Sony’s, Topanga’s, and Bernard’s engagement in an ultrahazardous activity. Defendants Sony, Topanga, and Bernard do not present authority stating Plaintiff Kenneth Johnson has to plead specific facts as to causation. Accordingly, the demurrer must be overruled as to Plaintiff Kenneth Johnson’s ultrahazardous activity cause of action.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

MARGARET WILLIAMS ET AL VS LONG BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRIC

Strict Liability Ultrahazardous Activity 6. Assault 7. Battery 8. Public Nuisance 9. IIED 10. NIED The crux of Plaintiffs’ complaint is that the individual plaintiff suffered arsenic poisoning in connection with the clean-up of an LBUSD site, and the entity plaintiff incurred economic damages as a result of the toxic site. Plaintiffs’ operative complaint is the Third Amended Complaint, filed on 7/11/18.

  • Hearing

LEONARDO GONZALEZ, ET AL. VS ANNING-JOHNSON COMPANY, ET AL.

Plaintiff Leonardo Gonzalez alleges claims for premises liability, negligence, and strict liability based on ultrahazardous activity. Plaintiff Mariana Gonzalez asserts a claim for loss of consortium. Defendants seek summary adjudication on the claims for strict liability and loss of consortium. Plaintiffs filed a notice of non-opposition.

  • Hearing

JONES VS. TZEN-WEN

Likewise, plaintiffs must prove that defendants were at least negligent to establish liability for nuisance, unless the nuisance was caused by an ultrahazardous activity or some other circumstance that supports strict liability. (See Lussier v. San Lorzenzo Valley Water Dist. (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 92, 100.)

  • Hearing

PADILLA VS MARRIOTT OWNERSHIP HEARING RE: DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT OF LESLIE PADILLA BY MARRIOTT RESORTS HOSPITALITY CORPORATION

In fact, classification of an activity as ultrahazardous does not automatically subject one engaged in it to strict liability without regard to place or circumstances. Thus, while blasting in a developed area calls for strict liability, (Citations), blasting in an isolated area may not. (Citation.)” (Smith v. Lockheed Propulsion Co. (1967) 247 Cal.App.2d 774, 786 [emphasis added].)

  • Hearing

THOMAS O'BRIEN VS LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT ET

The Court granted BATO’s motion for summary adjudication as to Plaintiff’s claim for Strict LiabilityUltrahazardous Activity; and the Court treated BATO’s arguments pertaining to Fraudulent Concealment and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress as a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings—which was GRANTED with 30 days leave to amend.

  • Hearing

  • Judge

    Lori Ann Fournier or Olivia Rosales

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

SAMI HABBAS, ET AL. VS WARNER MEDIA, ET AL.

(Warner) demurs solely to the 4th cause of action for strict liability (ultrahazardous activity) in Sami and Sandi Habbas’ 3rd Amended Complaint. Sami is an attorney who represents both himself (in pro per) and Plaintiff Sandi. Warner concurrently moves to strike the prayer for punitive damages and associated allegations of willful misconduct, conscious disregard, malice, oppression etc.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

JEFFREY CREMEANS VS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON COMPANY ET AL

BACKGROUND Plaintiff Jeffrey Cremeans (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendant Southern California Edison Company (“Defendant”) on July 16, 2018, alleging causes of action for: negligence; strict liability for ultrahazardous activities; strict products liability; and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

MARGARET WILLIAMS ET AL VS LONG BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRIC

TR: DENY, except the unopposed motion for summary adjudication of strict liabilityultrahazardous activity. INTRODUCTION Defendant LBUSD moves for summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication of all causes of action.

  • Hearing

SAMI HABBAS, ET AL. VS WARNER MEDIA, ET AL.

Fifth Cause of Action – Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activity Defendant demurs because there is no ultrahazardous activity alleged. “An activity is ultrahazardous if it (a) necessarily involves a risk of serious harm to the person, land or chattels of others which cannot be eliminated by the exercise of the utmost care….” (Luthringer v. Moore (1948) 31 Cal.2d 489, 498; see also Edwards v.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

TAMARA ELMORE V. JEFF GREENE, ET AL.

Plaintiff’s Cause of Action for Strict Liability Fails as a Matter of Law The Greenes argue that Plaintiff’s third cause of action for strict liability for ultrahazardous activity fails as a matter of law for two reasons. First, in order to state such a cause of action, the defendant must be the party engaged in the ultrahazardous activity, whereas here, Plaintiff was injured when she herself shot the crossbow. (CACI 460.)

  • Hearing

OBED ISAI QUINTANILLA CRUZ VS RANCHO VILLA LLC, ET AL.

Fourth Cause of Action – Strict Liability Defendants demur to the fourth cause of action for strict liability. Strict liability may be imposed on one who carries on ultrahazardous activity that proximately causes damage to another. (Edwards v. Post Transportation Co. (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 980, 983.)

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

CHARMAINE HEADSPETH VS STAR HOOKAH LOUNGE, INC.

On October 23, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant asserting causes of action for: (1) Negligence; (2) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (3) Premises Liability; (4) Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activity; and (5) Punitive Damages.

  • Hearing

CHARMAINE HEADSPETH VS STAR HOOKAH LOUNGE, INC.

On October 23, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant asserting causes of action for: (1) Negligence; (2) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (3) Premises Liability; (4) Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activity; and (5) Punitive Damages. On 1/10/19, the Court heard a demurrer to Plaintiff’s causes of action for IIED, strict liability, and punitive damages.

  • Hearing

GRUENBACHER V. PATTERSON ENTERPRISES LP

Defendants base their demurrer as to plaintiffs’ cause of action for strict liability for ultra-hazardous activity exclusively on a respondent superior theory, alleging that because the plaintiffs failed to identify the individual employee who was responsible for the negligent spraying of Vulcan pesticide, that they have inadequately pled a cause of action for strict liability for ultra-hazardous activity.

  • Hearing

CHARMAINE HEADSPETH VS STAR HOOKAH LOUNGE, INC.

Fourth Cause of Action: Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activities Defendant demurs to the fourth cause of action for Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activities on grounds that the complaint fails to allege an ultrahazardous activity. An activity is ultrahazardous if it (1) necessarily involves a risk of serious harm to others that cannot be eliminated by the exercise of due care; and (2) is not a matter of common usage. (See, e.g., Edwards v.

  • Hearing

MARGARET WILLIAMS ET AL VS LONG BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRIC

LBUSD contends that it cannot be liable for under a theory of strict liability/ultrahazardous activities because it is a government entity. Government liability is only allowed via express statutory provisions. (Gov’t Code §815) “Strict products liability is a unique, court-fashioned doctrine. In an action based on the doctrine, negligence or culpability is not a necessary ingredient; the plaintiff may recover on proof that the product was defective.

  • Hearing

BECKUM VS. OTTO

It asserts a claim for strict liability for ultrahazardous activity, alleging: “Defendant’s conduct in maintaining an electrical system in a public area constituted an abnormally dangerous activity which exposed Plaintiff to an unreasonable risk of harm” (Complaint ¶ 48). This is strained to the point of unintentional self- parody.

  • Hearing

ARMSTRONG OIL, INC. V. PIECO, INC., ET AL.

Defendant Pieco, Inc.’s (“Pieco”) motion for judgment on the pleadings for Plaintiff Armstrong Oil, Inc.’s first cause of action for strict liability, is denied. Pieco’s request for judicial notice of Exhibit A (copy of Permit issued by the Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources) is granted.

  • Hearing

HEBERT VS. ADAMS

Strict Liability DENIED on this ground. Defendants argue that there are three main theories which would support a claim for strict liability -- wild animals, domestic animals with a propensity for violence, or ultrahazardous activities. First, in Opposition, Plaintiff argues correctly that there are triable issues of fact as to whether Merlin Z was a domestic animal or wild animal, for purposes of this doctrine of liability.

  • Hearing

RYAN KAUFMAN VS APEEL TECHNOLOGY INC ET AL

The causes of action in the complaint are: 1) premises liability, 2) general negligence, 3) products liability (strict liability, negligence, and breach of implied and express warranties; and 4) negligence per se. Kaufman has since added former “Doe” defendants Rockber Partners, LLC (later dismissed); Daketta Los Carneros, LLC; Hurst Enterprises, Inc.; Meridian Group Real Estate Management, Inc.; Beyond Heating and Air, Inc.

  • Hearing

MADFI LLC VS DKN HOTEL LLC [E-FILE]

Strict Liability Ultra Hazardous Activity Alliance's demurrer is overruled. SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, sets forth the applicable analysis in determining whether an activity is ultrahazardous and therefore subject to strict liability.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Complex

  • Sub Type

    Writ

MADFI LLC VS DKN HOTEL LLC [E-FILE]

Strict Liability Ultra Hazardous Activity Alliance's demurrer is overruled. SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, sets forth the applicable analysis in determining whether an activity is ultrahazardous and therefore subject to strict liability.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Complex

  • Sub Type

    Writ

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