Filed 1/24/11
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

OCTOVIANO CORTEZ,
Plaintiff and Appellant,
S177075
v.
Ct.App. 2/4 B210628
LOURDES ABICH et al.,
Los Angeles County
Defendants and Respondents. )
Super. Ct. No. GC038444

Under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 (Cal-
OSHA or the Act) (Lab. Code, ? 6300 et seq.; all further unlabeled statutory
references are to this code), employers are required to ?furnish employment and a
place of employment that is safe and healthful? for their employees. (? 6400,
subd. (a).) For purposes of the Act, ?employment? is defined as ?the carrying on
of any trade, enterprise, project, industry, business, occupation, or work, including
all excavation, demolition, and construction work, or any process or operation in
any way related thereto, in which any person is engaged or permitted to work for
hire, except household domestic service.? (? 6303, subd. (b), italics added.)
The narrow question before us is this: Does work rendered on a residential
remodeling project in which significant portions of a house are demolished and
rebuilt, and new rooms are added, fall within the statutory ?household domestic
service? provision for employment excluded under the Act? Based on the plain
meaning of the statutory language, we conclude the answer is no.
1


FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Octoviano Cortez (plaintiff) was seriously injured while working on a job
at a house purchased and owned by Lourdes Abich, for her son, Omar Abich
(collectively, defendants), to use as a residence. Plaintiff brought this action
against defendants and the unlicensed contractor who hired him, Miguel Quezada
Ortiz,1 alleging causes of action for negligence (failure to warn and failure to
make work area safe) and premises liability (negligence in ownership,
maintenance, management, and operation of premises).
Defendants moved for summary judgment after the following facts were
developed through discovery. Omar Abich personally obtained construction
permits from the City of Pasadena for a remodeling project that would add over
750 square feet to the house. Although Omar Abich was not a general contractor
and did not have a contractor?s license, he designated himself as the
?owner/builder? for the project and hired an architectural firm to draw up the
necessary plans for approval by the Pasadena building department. The project
entailed demolition of existing walls and a deck, addition of a new master
bedroom and a new master bathroom, construction of a garage to replace a carport,
an upgrade of the kitchen, removal of the existing roof and construction of a new
roof, installation of new flooring, new toilets and sinks, and new paint.
Defendants contracted with a number of individuals and companies to work
on the project, one of whom was Ortiz.2 Defendants were unaware that Ortiz did

1
Ortiz?s default was entered in April 2007, and he is not a party to these
proceedings.
2
Omar Abich?s responses to plaintiff?s special interrogatories indicate he
hired various individuals and companies for landscaping demolition, house
demolition, concrete demolition, deck removal, and demolition inside the entire
house. He additionally hired others for house framing, roof framing, roof tiling,
(footnote continued on next page)
2


not have a contractor?s license, which they concede was required for the work.
Defendants moved out of the house once the project was under way, and they did
not supervise the work.
Ortiz hired plaintiff to work on the project, but the scope of that work is in
dispute. For present purposes we accept plaintiff?s contention he was hired to help
demolish the roof. When plaintiff arrived at the property, only the front part of the
house remained; as for the back part of the house, the roof had been removed and
?[t]he only thing that was left were the walls that were made out of brick.?
Plaintiff proceeded to collect debris from the demolition, then climbed onto the
remaining part of the roof to help with its removal. Plaintiff took two steps and
fell when a portion of it collapsed. He suffered a fractured spine.
In their motion for summary judgment, defendants contended they had no
duty to warn plaintiff of the roof?s condition because he went onto the roof on his
own accord and any danger was open and obvious. They also argued the work
safety requirements of Cal-OSHA did not apply to the residential remodeling
project.
The trial court granted defendants? motion. As relevant here, the court
determined as a matter of law that defendants were not plaintiff?s employers, and
that even if they were, defendants were homeowners, who were not required to
comply with Cal-OSHA.
The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment for defendants. The
court first concluded that, pursuant to section 2750.5, defendants must be regarded
as plaintiff?s employers with respect to potential tort liability. Nonetheless, it held

(footnote continued from previous page)
drywalling, stucco work, electrical services, flooring, custom carpentry, tiling,
granite work, and painting.
3


as a matter of law that defendants? home improvement project fell within Cal-
OSHA?s ?household domestic service? provision for employment excluded under
the Act (? 6303, subd. (b)), because the project was undertaken for the
noncommercial purpose of enhancing defendants? personal enjoyment of their
residence.
We granted plaintiff?s petition for review of the Cal-OSHA issue.
DISCUSSION
In certain circumstances, a worker who sustains an on-the-job injury is not
subject to the exclusive remedy provisions of the workers? compensation law
(? 3200 et seq.), but may bring an action against his or her employer for damages.
(E.g., ?? 3602, subd. (c), 3706; see Zaragoza v. Ibarra (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th
1012, 1022.) Here, plaintiff does not seek recovery of workers? compensation
benefits but has sued defendants in tort for alleged violations of the safety
standards that Cal-OSHA imposes on employers.
Notably, defendants were not plaintiff?s employers in the usual sense
because they did not directly hire plaintiff to work on their home. Rather,
defendants hired Ortiz, who in turn hired plaintiff. Notwithstanding this
circumstance, the Court of Appeal determined that section 2750.5 rendered
defendants the employers of plaintiff with respect to potential tort liability,
because Ortiz was not licensed as a contractor. (See Rosas v. Dishong (1998) 67
Cal.App.4th 815, 822.) Whether unlicensed contractors or their workers may or
must be deemed the homeowners? employees under section 2750.5, either for
purposes of tort liability generally or with regard to Cal-OHSA specifically, are
difficult and unsettled questions in this court. (See Ramirez v. Nelson (2008) 44
Cal.4th 908, 916-917; Fernandez v. Lawson (2003) 31 Cal.4th 31, 39-44
(Fernandez) (conc. opn. of Brown, J.); cf. In re Jesse Ramirez Drywall (Cal.
OSHA, Mar. 23, 1993, No. 93-R4D3-489) 1999 CA OSHA App.Bd. Lexis 55; In
4


re Commercial Diving (Cal. OSHA, Apr. 14, 1994, 91-R3D5-921) 1994 CA
OSHA App.Bd. Lexis 28.) Defendants, however, neglected to seek review of
these issues, so we do not resolve them here.
Assuming the Court of Appeal was correct in finding the requisite
employment relationship under Cal-OSHA, we proceed to the question at hand,
i.e., whether work on an extensive home remodeling project falls within the Act?s
?household domestic service? exclusion. (? 6303, subd. (b).) We start with a brief
overview of the statutory scheme.
A. Overview of Cal-OSHA
Cal-OSHA, codified in division 5 of the Labor Code, was enacted to assure
safe and healthful working conditions for all California workers within its
purview. (? 6300.) To further this purpose, Cal-OSHA authorizes ?the
enforcement of effective standards, assisting and encouraging employers to
maintain safe and healthful working conditions.? (? 6300.)
Under Cal-OSHA, the employment and place of employment provided to
employees must be safe and healthful. (? 6400, subd. (a).) Among other things,
the employer must ?furnish and use safety devices and safeguards,? adopt methods
and practices that are ?reasonably adequate to render such employment and place
of employment safe and healthful,? and ?do every other thing reasonably
necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.? (? 6401.) The
employer must also ?establish, implement, and maintain an effective injury
prevention program? pursuant to the Act?s terms. (? 6401.7, subd. (a).)
Moreover, ?[e]very employer and every employee shall comply with occupational
safety and health standards,? including ?all rules, regulations, and orders? pursuant
to the Act ?which are applicable to his [or her] own actions and conduct.?
(? 6407.)
5


Additionally, Cal-OSHA imposes specific responsibilities upon employers
to provide information to employees and comply with recordkeeping
requirements. For instance, employers must post information in their workplaces
regarding employee protections and obligations under the Act. (? 6408, subd. (a).)
They must also file with the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor
Statistics and Research, the report of every statutorily designated physician
regarding every occupational injury or occupational illness, and immediately
report cases of serious injury, illness, or death. (?? 6409, 6409.1.)
Not only are Cal-OSHA violations punishable by civil and/or criminal
penalties (? 6423 et seq.), but the Act specifies that ?[s]ections 452 and 669 of the
Evidence Code shall apply to this division and to occupational safety and health
standards adopted under this division in the same manner as any other statute,
ordinance, or regulation.? (? 6304.5.) This means that ?Cal-OSHA provisions are
to be treated like any other statute or regulation and may be admitted to establish a
standard or duty of care in all negligence and wrongful death actions, including
third party actions.? (Elsner v. Uveges (2004) 34 Cal.4th 915, 928.)
B. Employment Under Cal-OSHA
Does Cal-OSHA?s definition of employment exempt work on a home
remodeling project? This is a matter of legislative intent, and the rules governing
our analysis are settled. We must ascertain the Legislature?s intent so as to
effectuate the purpose of the regulatory scheme. (Elsner v. Uveges, supra, 34
Cal.4th at p. 927.) In determining such intent, we look first to the words of the
statute, ? ?giving to the language its usual, ordinary import and according
significance, if possible, to every word, phrase and sentence in pursuance of the
legislative purpose.? ? (State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Garamendi
(2004) 32 Cal.4th 1029, 1043.) Although we give effect to a statute according to
6


the usual, ordinary import of its language (ibid.; Merrill v. Department of Motor
Vehicles (1969) 71 Cal.2d 907, 918), language that permits more than one
reasonable interpretation allows us to consider ?other aids, such as the statute?s
purpose, legislative history, and public policy.? (Coalition of Concerned
Communities, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (2004) 34 Cal.4th 733, 737.)
As relevant to plaintiff?s action, Cal-OSHA requires employers to ?furnish
employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the
employees therein.? (? 6400, subd. (a).) Section 6303, subdivision (b), defines
?employment? as ?the carrying on of any trade, enterprise, project, industry,
business, occupation, or work, including all excavation, demolition, and
construction work, or any process or operation in any way related thereto, in
which any person is engaged or permitted to work for hire, except household
domestic service.? (Italics added.)
Whether work on a home remodeling project constitutes employment
excluded from Cal-OSHA?s application hinges on the language italicized above.
Plaintiff contends the first italicized phrase makes clear that defendants? project
fell within the regulatory reach of Cal-OSHA. Conversely, defendants rely on the
second italicized phrase to argue their project utilized ?household domestic
service? excepted from Cal-OSHA?s application.
Because the labor for defendants? home remodeling project entailed ?the
carrying on of [a] . . . project . . . or work? that involved ?demolition? and
?construction work? in which plaintiff was ?engaged or permitted to work for
hire,? it qualified as employment under section 6303, subdivision (b), unless the
Legislature intended the term ?household domestic service? to include residential
remodeling projects involving demolition and construction work.
As we observed in Fernandez, supra, 31 Cal.4th 31, Cal-OSHA provides
no definition of ?household domestic service,? and the relevant legislative history
7


offers no guidance on its meaning. (Fernandez, at p. 36.) Fernandez traced the
term to its appearance in the original 1913 predecessor to the current Act, and
noted that, even then, ? ?employment? excluded ?persons [who] are employed
solely in . . . household domestic services.? ? (Fernandez, at p. 36 [discussing
Stats. 1913, ch. 176, ? 51, p. 305].)
Upon reviewing the legislative history, Fernandez concluded that
household domestic service refers to ?a broad category of workers? and ?implies
duties that are personal to the homeowner, not those which relate to a commercial
or business activity on the homeowner?s part.? (Fernandez, supra, 31 Cal.4th at
p. 37.) Noting the term is generally understood ?to include work both within and
outside a residence,? Fernandez relied on out-of-state decisional law and
California wages and hours regulations to find that the term logically refers to all
services related to the ? ?maintenance? ? of a private household or its premises,
including gardening and tree trimming. (Id. at p. 36 [citing regulatory recognition
that gardeners engage in a ?household occupation[]?].) Accordingly, Fernandez
concluded that noncommercial tree trimming falls within the scope of the
household domestic service exception and that a homeowner who hires a person to
perform such service is not subject to the Act?s tree trimming regulations.
(Fernandez, at pp. 36-38.) Fernandez further reasoned that ?overwhelming public
policy and practical considerations? make it unlikely the Legislature intended Cal-
OSHA?s complex regulatory scheme to apply to a homeowner hiring a tree
trimmer for a personal, noncommercial purpose. (Fernandez, at p. 37.)
Relying on Fernandez, defendants contend that a homeowner is exempt
from Cal-OSHA whenever an employee performs services on the property for the
homeowner?s personal benefit and not for a commercial purpose. For the reasons
below, we disagree.
8


First of all, Fernandez expressly and deliberately declined to address
whether a homeowner is subject to Cal-OSHA for noncommercial projects other
than tree trimming. (Fernandez, supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 37.) Hence, Fernandez
does not compel defendants? interpretation of the Act.
More to the point, the statutory language fails to support defendants?
construction. Section 6303?s definition of employment does not purport to
categorically exempt all work performed for homeowners regardless whether
excavation, demolition, or construction is involved. Rather, the statute defines
employment broadly as including ?the carrying on of any . . . project . . . or work,
including all excavation, demolition, and construction work, or any process or
operation in any way related thereto, in which any person is engaged or permitted
to work for hire,? and exempts only a specific type of activity: household
domestic service. (? 6303, subd. (b), italics added.)
As an activity, household domestic service is commonly associated with
services relating to the maintenance of a household or its premises (see
Fernandez, supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 36) and does not connote work contracted for in
connection with an extensive home remodeling project for which a building permit
must be issued, significant portions of the house are demolished and rebuilt, and
entirely new rooms are framed and constructed. Indeed, unlike tree trimming, the
types of labor typically entailed in an extensive remodeling project appear to fall
outside state regulatory categories for household occupations or services of a
household nature. (E.g., Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, ? 11150, subd. 2(I); id., tit. 22,
? 629-1, subd. (b).)3 That is hardly surprising, inasmuch as the labor and skills

3
Regulations pertaining to wages, hours, and working conditions define
?household occupations? as meaning ?all services related to the care of persons or
maintenance of a private household or its premises by an employee of a private
householder. Said occupations shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(footnote continued on next page)
9


characteristically necessary for such a project are not functionally equivalent to
those generally regarded as sufficient for the ordinary operation or maintenance of
a private household or its premises. (See Fernandez, supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 36.)
Moreover, the worksite conditions associated with residential demolition,
construction, and large-scale improvements can be ongoing for months, and are
often vastly more hazardous than the conditions typically associated with regular
household maintenance.4

(footnote continued from previous page)
butlers, chauffeurs, companions, cooks, day workers, gardeners, graduate nurses,
grooms, house cleaners, housekeepers, maids, practical nurses, tutors, valets, and
other similar occupations.? (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, ? 11150, subd. 2(I), italics
added.)

Regulations implementing provisions of the Unemployment Insurance
Code specify that ? ?[d]omestic service in a private home? ? includes ?service of a
household nature performed by an employee in or about a private home in
connection with the maintenance of the private home or premises, or for the
comfort and care of the individual or family, as distinguished from service which
is directly related to the business or career of the employer.? (Cal. Code Regs.,
tit. 22, ? 629-1, subd. (a), italics added.) As used above, ? ?[s]ervice of a
household nature? ? includes ?service customarily rendered by cooks, waiters,
butlers, housekeepers, governesses, maids, valets, baby sitters, janitors,
laundresses, furnacemen, caretakers, handymen, gardeners, and by chauffeurs of
automobiles, crews of private yachts, and pilots of private airplanes for family
use? but does not include ?service performed by private secretaries, tutors,
librarians, or musicians, or by carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters or other
skilled craftsmen.? (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, ? 629-1, subd. (b).)

While these two types of employment regulations differ from each other in
certain material respects, they both view the concept of household occupations or
service as specifically pertaining to the ?maintenance? of the private household or
its premises, or the care of the householder?s family. (See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8,
? 11150, subd. 2(I); id., tit. 22, ? 629-1, subd. (a).)
4
Thus, whether a home remodeling project extends beyond mere household
maintenance will generally depend on the totality of circumstances, including but
not limited to, the scope of the project and the extent to which it involves
significant demolition and construction work, the labor and skills required for the
(footnote continued on next page)
10


Our conclusion is consistent with Crockett v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1923)
190 Cal. 583 (Crockett), which addressed household domestic service in the
related context of workers? compensation. In Crockett, an employer sought to
annul an award of compensation benefits for an injury a worker sustained while
sweeping cobwebs in the employer?s residence. The Industrial Accident
Commission had based its award on the following findings of fact. P.M. Crockett
hired J.B. Smith as a carpenter to assist him in converting a barn structure into a
residence. Crockett and his family lived in the structure during the conversion,
although it was not then entirely habitable. While employed by Crockett, Smith
worked primarily as a carpenter, but he performed other incidental jobs when
requested, such as transporting lumber, cleaning debris as portions of the old barn
were torn down, unloading furniture, and cleaning out cobwebs. One day,
Crockett specifically instructed Smith as to the carpentry work desired, and then
directed Smith to do whatever Crockett?s wife might demand of him. Smith was
engaged in his carpentry work when the wife asked him to clean away the
cobwebs and dirt that covered the floor joists above an area where she wished to
set a stove. As Smith did so, dirt fell into his right eye and severely injured it. (Id.
at pp. 584-585.)
In seeking to annul the benefits award, Crockett contended that ?when
Smith stopped his carpentry work and began sweeping off the floor joists he
departed from his regular duties and engaged in household domestic service,?
which fell within the rule of excluded employment as provided under the former
workers? compensation law. (Crockett, supra, 190 Cal. at p. 585; see Stats. 1917,

(footnote continued from previous page)
project, the need for building and/or other construction permits, and the extent to
which those hired for the project are subject to state licensing requirements.
11


ch. 586, ? 8(a), p. 835 [defining ?employee? in part as excluding any person
?engaged in household domestic service?].)5 Crockett rejected that contention,
first observing that when Crockett hired Smith, ?he had in contemplation the
remodeling and reconstruction of the old barn? and that his real intention was that
?Smith should do whatever was necessary and incidental to the work at hand.?
(Crockett, at p. 586.) Crockett concluded the commission reasonably found as a
factual matter that Smith was injured while performing services growing out of
and incidental to his employment on the residential remodeling project, and that
Smith had not departed from his regular carpentry duties to engage in household
domestic service. (Id. at pp. 585-586.)
Significantly, there appeared no question in Crockett that household
domestic service was not at issue with regard to Smith?s work as a carpenter in the
conversion of the barn structure to a private residence. Although not dispositive
on the point, Crockett supports our conclusion that the term is commonly
understood as excluding employment in extensive residential construction and
remodeling.
Defendants next urge us to follow the lead of Rogers v. Irving (Wn.Ct.App.
1997) 933 P.2d 1060, which determined that a homeowner who hired a roofing
contractor had no duty to comply with certain safety standards under the
Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. That decision, however, analyzed
an issue not presented here, i.e., whether a homeowner qualified as an ?employer?
under the statutory scheme (see ante, at p. 4); it did not address whether roofing
work performed as part of a large-scale residential remodeling project qualified as

5
The current Workers? Compensation Act does not retain this exclusion.
(Compare ?? 3351, subd. (d), 3352, subd. (h), with Stats. 1917, ch. 586, ? 8(a), p.
835.)
12


a household domestic service. Accordingly, defendants? reliance on Rogers is
misplaced.6
Defendants also identify various public policy reasons for not applying Cal-
OSHA to homeowners. First, they argue, it would be unprecedented to impose
duties on homeowners that they have no reason to expect and are ill-equipped to
handle. Second, requiring homeowners to comply with Cal-OSHA standards
would make them subject to reporting duties and expose them to criminal
prosecution and liability if violations occur. (See, e.g., ?? 6409.2, 6423.) Third,
significant inequity would result because, although an unlicensed contractor is not
legally entitled to payment (Bus. & Prof. Code, ? 7031), it is possible under Cal-
OHSA that an unlicensed worker could refuse to work if he or she encountered
any ?real and apparent hazard? yet still be entitled to payment from the
homeowner (Lab. Code, ? 6311). Fourth, application of Cal-OSHA to
homeowners would impinge on their constitutional right of privacy because their
homes would be subject to inspection without advance notice (Lab. Code, ? 6321)
or probable cause in the constitutional sense.
Plaintiff counters that, as a matter of public policy, a homeowner who opts
to obtain construction permits as an owner/builder ? effectively assuming the role

6
Defendants? other out-of-state authorities are likewise unpersuasive in the
context of this case. (E.g., Hottmann v. Hottmann (Mich.Ct.App. 1997) 572
N.W.2d 259 [Mich. Occupational Safety and Health Act contemplates paid
employment and did not apply where an individual helped his brother to install a
new roof without expectation of payment]; Geiger v. Milwaukee Guardian Ins.
Co.
(Wis.Ct.App. 1994) 524 N.W.2d 909 [attorney?s occasional work at home did
not render his residence a ?place of employment? subject to Wisconsin?s safe-
place statute]; Stenvik v. Constant (Minn.Ct.App. 1993) 502 N.W.2d 416 [the
Minn. Occupational Safety and Health Act did not govern casual contracting
relationship that arose when a homeowner hired a longtime acquaintance to do
siding work on a second house that he intended to rent or sell].)
13


of an unlicensed general contractor ? should not be relieved from the obligation
to comply with laws designed to protect the workers he or she employs.7 In his
view, requiring Cal-OSHA compliance for residential remodeling projects
involving construction and demolition would serve the legislative goal of
?deterring unsafe practices and reducing the number and severity of future
accidents? when property owners engage in such projects with lower cost

7
The California Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License
Board (CSLB) maintains a Web site that includes the following general
information about the risks of being an owner/builder. First, ?[a]n owner/builder
is what the term indicates. The person owns the property and acts as their own
general contractor on the job and either does the work themselves or has
employees (or subcontractors) working on the project.?
(http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/KnowRisksofOwnerBuilder/WhatAnOwnerB
uilderIs.asp [as of January 24, 2011].) Second, ?[w]hen you sign a building permit
application as an owner/builder, you assume full responsibility for all phases of
your project and its integrity. You must pull all building permits. Your project
must pass codes and building inspections.? Additionally, ?[a]n owner/builder is
also responsible for supervising, scheduling and paying subcontractors. If you use
anyone other than your immediate family or a licensed subcontractor for work,
you may be considered an ?employer.? ?
(http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/KnowRisksOfOwnerBuilder/TheResponsibili
tiesOfAnOwnerBuilder.asp [as of January 24, 2011].)

Amicus curiae Consumer Attorneys of California suggests that a rule
requiring Cal-OSHA compliance would not catch homeowners by surprise,
inasmuch as the CSLB Web site already posts the following warning to potential
owner/builders: ?If your workers are injured, or your subcontractors are not
licensed or do not carry liability insurance or worker?s compensation and they are
injured, you could be asked to pay for injuries and rehabilitation through your
homeowner?s insurance policy or face lawsuits.?
(http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/KnowRisksOfOwnerBuilder/TheDownsideOf
BeingAnOwnerBuilder.asp [as of January 24, 2011].)

Amicus curiae also contends such a rule would not be unduly onerous for
homeowners, as the CSLB also provides a consumer Web site making it easy to
check the license status of any potential contractor or person. (See
https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/checklicense.aspx [as of
January 24, 2011].)
14


unlicensed contractors and workers. (Elsner v. Uveges, supra, 34 Cal.4th at
p. 930.) Conversely, exempting such work from Cal-OSHA?s application would
allow homeowners to take unsafe risks and expose workers to grave harm while at
the same time avoiding any real accountability.
It may be that policy considerations are relevant in assessing the broader
and more complex issue whether a homeowner may or must be deemed an
employer under section 2750.5, either for purposes of tort liability generally or
with regard to Cal-OHSA specifically. For now, however, we need only address
the meaning of the term ?household domestic service.? Because the usual and
ordinary import of that term excludes work performed on a remodeling project
calling for the demolition and rebuilding of significant portions of a house and the
construction of new rooms, we will not consider whether public policy supports a
rule restricting Cal-OSHA?s application to homeowners as possible statutory
employers.
Finally, defendants contend that for home improvement projects, the
question whether an employee?s work falls within the household domestic service
exemption should turn on the nature of his or her work duties taken in isolation,
regardless whether those duties were part and parcel of a larger remodeling
project. We disagree.
Defendants cite no authority for the proposition that the worksite of a home
remodeling project may serve as a place of employment for some of the
employees hired to work on the project, but not for others hired to work on the
same project. It may be that a job or work assignment falling within the technical
scope of an extensive remodeling project is sufficiently independent therefrom to
be considered separately as a household domestic service. In this case, however,
we need not exhaustively explore the factors properly marking such an analysis,
because the record discloses no need to do so. Assuming for purposes of
15


argument that plaintiff?s work involved a household domestic service if
undertaken as a single project, there is no indication he was hired or rendered his
service independently of the larger remodeling project, in either spatial or
temporal terms, or otherwise. Rather, the record reflects that plaintiff performed
his job as part of the project and during its normal course, and at the site where
most if not all the demolition occurred.
CONCLUSION AND DISPOSITION
We conclude the Court of Appeal erred in applying the statutory household
domestic service exclusion. The judgment is reversed and the matter is remanded
to that court for further proceedings consistent with the views expressed herein.

BAXTER, J.
WE CONCUR:
KENNARD, Acting C.J.
WERDEGAR, J.
CHIN, J.
MORENO, J.
CORRIGAN, J.
GEORGE, J.*

_____________________________
* Retired Chief Justice of California, assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to
article VI, section 6 of the California Constitution.
16



See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.

Name of Opinion Cortez v. Abich
__________________________________________________________________________________

Unpublished Opinion


Original Appeal
Original Proceeding
Review Granted
XXX 177 Cal.App.4th 261
Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

Opinion No.

S177075
Date Filed: January 24, 2011
__________________________________________________________________________________

Court:

Superior
County: Los Angeles
Judge: Joseph F. De Vanon, Jr.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Counsel:

The Homampour Law Firm, Arash Homampour; and Stuart Sherman for Plaintiff and Appellant.

The Arkin Law Firm and Sharon J. Arkin for Consumer Attorneys of California as Amicus Curiae on
behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

Early, Maslach & Van Dueck, John C. Notti, Paul A. Carron, James Grafton Randall; Greines, Martin,
Stein & Richland, Robert A. Olson, Alana H. Rotter and Sheila A. Wirkus for Defendants and
Respondents.

Fred J. Hiestand for The Civil Justice Association of California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants
and Respondents.



Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):

Arash Homampour
Homampour Law Firm
8383 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 830
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(323) 658-8077

Robert A. Olson
Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland
5900 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(310) 859-7811