Unlicensed Contractor, HOA, Injured Worker…This Can’t Be Good, But There’s a Lesson Here Too!


LUIS GONZALEZ, Plaintiff and Appellant,


ANDREA DeBERRY ET AL, Defendants and Respondents.

No. A125251.

Court of Appeals of California, First District, Division Two.

Filed July 25, 2011.


Respondents Andrea DeBerry and Alice Farrelly are the owners of a three-story condominium building located on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. They set up the “3515-17-19 Sacramento Street Homeowners Association” (HOA) and serve as its officers. The HOA manages the property and contracted with Bruce Parsley to paint the exterior of the building. The Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) of the HOA mandated that the HOA “shall acquire and maintain . . . [w]orker's compensation insurance to the extent necessary to comply with any applicable law.” However, when the HOA negotiated the painting contract with Parsley, he lied and said that he maintained both general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. He also provided fake documentation of non-existent insurance. Respondents state that they relied on these false representations and “assumed” that since Parsley was insured he must also be licensed.
Appellant was a member of Parsley's painting crew in September 2005 when he was injured. He was suspended in a bosun's chair,2 and working near the top of the building's interior light well, when the chair's rigging snapped and dropped him approximately 20 feet to the bottom of the shaft. Appellant suffered serious injuries, including damage to both shoulders and numerous fractured bones. Parsley was cited under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal-OSHA) (§ 6300 et seq.) for three workplace safety violations, including a citation for the “worn” rigging line that broke and caused appellant's fall.3
Appellant applied to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) and also filed this action. Since Parsley had no insurance, the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF)4 joined the other respondents as a party pursuant to the provisions of sections 3715 and 3716. In 2008, the UEBTF settled appellant's claim against the Fund for $25,000. Respondent DeBerry's Homeowners policy insurer and the HOA each contributed $4,444 under the terms of the settlement agreement executed by the parties, which also recited that it did not “resolve the appellant's superior court case for negligence filed in connection with the subject accident” and that respondents were not “willfully uninsured.”