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Soobok L. Hong hired Creed Consulting Inc. (Creed) to remodel her house. She then sued Creed seeking to recover the $85,000 she paid it under the statute that allows a party to recover “all compensation paid to [an] unlicensed contractor” (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 7031, subd. (b)), on the theory Creed failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which resulted in automatic suspension of its contractor’s license during the time it worked on her house. The trial court entered judgment in Hong’s favor for $85,000.

Hong’s complaint alleged that on August 24, 2010, she entered into a written contract with Creed for home remodeling work. The written contract, attached to the complaint as an exhibit, was for work totaling $92,000. Hong alleged she paid Creed $85,000 in progress payments.

Printouts from the Contractors State Licence Board showed that from June 2, 2010, to June 14, 2011, Creed did not have workers’ compensation insurance and was exempted from having workers’ compensation insurance because it certified it had no employees. Creed had employees including Hyunsung Park and Dukyong Lee. The court found on summary judgment that Hong had established Creed had employees during the time it worked on Hong’s house. During that time, Creed did not carry workers’ compensation insurance, and therefore, its contractor’s license was automatically suspended. Moreover, because Creed certified it had no employees, it did not act reasonably or in good faith to maintain its license and could not avail itself of the substantial compliance/good faith exception to section 7031, subdivision (e).

On appeal, Creed contends the trial court erred in taking judicial notice of the printouts from the California Contractors State License Board website (Exhibits 2 and 3) to establish as an undisputed fact that Creed did not carry workers’ compensation insurance during the time it performed work on Hong’s house. Moreover, as that was the only evidence Hong submitted to establish that Hong lacked workers’ compensation insurance, she failed to carry her burden and was not entitled to summary adjudication on her third cause of action..

Hong contends the two website printouts were proper subjects for judicial notice under Evidence Code section 452, subdivision (c) [official acts of legislative, executive, or judicial departments], and subdivision (h) [facts and propositions not reasonably subject to dispute and capable of immediate and accurate determination by resort to sources of reasonably indisputable accuracy], because they were from a government website and as such were “self-authenticating.”

The Court of Appeal reversed the summary judgment in favor of Hong in the unpublished opinion of Soobok Hong v Creed Consulting Inc. The Court noted that Hong relied solely on the printouts from a government website reciting that Creed was exempt from carrying workers’ compensation insurance and had certified it had no employees, to prove the essential fact that it did not have workers’ compensation insurance. But the truthfulness of the contents of the printout was subject to dispute and the court could not take judicial notice of the contents of the website printout. Accordingly, Hong failed to establish all the essential elements of her cause of action. Summary adjudication was improper and the judgment must be reversed. We recognize this may well be a hollow victory for Creed. It either had workers’ compensation insurance during the relevant time period or it did not, and that seems an easy enough fact for Hong to prove through properly obtained discovery.