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Owner of Parking Lot not Liable for Damages Which are Not “Foreseeable”

In August of 2013, Mr. Sakai was in the parking lot of a Union 76 station, attempting to get food from a Taco truck that was set up on the premises, having leased the right to do so from the owners of the Union 76 station.  Because the parking lot was full of people waiting to get tacos, Mr. Sakai was unable to find a place to park and tried to back up to exit the parking lot and find parking elsewhere.  In doing so, he struck another vehicle.  He and the other driver exited their vehicles to exchange information.  The driver of the other vehicle became irate and got back in his vehicle and fled the scene.  In doing so, he struck Mr. Sakai and dragged him for several feet.


Mr. Sakai brought a lawsuit against the owners of the parking lot and gas station, alleging that his injuries were caused, in part, by “inadequate parking” and lack of “security personnel to direct traffic” in the parking lot.  It was further alleged that there was a “failure to designate a parking area for the taco stand” as well as failure to take other adequate safety precautions.


The owners of the parking lot brought a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they owed no duty to Mr. Sakai as the cause of his injuries was not “foreseeable.”  The Superior Court agreed, granting summary judgment against Mr. Sakai.


The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. The court concluded that defendant did not owe a duty of care to plaintiff. The conduct of the driver of the vehicle that struck plaintiff was not foreseeable or derivative of defendant’s conduct in designing, leasing or operating the parking lot. Defendant’s conduct in leasing its parking lot to a taco truck bore only an attenuated relationship to plaintiff’s injuries. The court declined to hold that an owner of a parking lot, who leases that space out to a mobile food vendor, is, as a matter of policy, liable for all harm that occurs during the hours of operation of that vendor regardless of intervening acts by third parties.

Case referenced is:

Sakai v. Massco Investments, LLC (Feb. 8, 2018, No. B279275) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 167]

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