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Lloyd Ings was a retired telephone worker living in Simi Valley. He owns two triplexes in west Los Angeles to supplement his retirement income. Ings purchased one triplex in 1957 and the other in 1963. Matthias Bussard was Ings former neighbor. They became friends in 1999. Bussard lost his job as a mortgage broker at Wells Fargo Bank in March 2009.

In August, 2009, Ings agreed to pay Bussard $20 per hour to paint the eaves on one of the triplexes. On the first day of painting, Bussard walked backwards off the roof and sustained injuries. Bussard acknowledged there was nothing defective about the roof; he simply misjudged the size of it.

Ings paid Bussard’s medical bills for a period of time, but stopped when it became too expensive. Bussard then filed this lawsuit against Ings. Bussard’s complaint contained three causes of action: (1) premises liability; (2) general negligence; and (3) “uninsured employer liability (Labor Code[,] § 3706 et seq.).”

Ings filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court ruled that Bussard was not an employee of Ings for purposes of Workers’ Compensation, and so Ings had no duty to purchase such insurance and no liability under Labor Code section 3706. The court also ruled Bussard was not an employee for purposes of Cal-OSHA and so Ings had no duty to comply with Cal-OSHA requirements. Because it was undisputed the fall was not due to any defect in the roof, the court ruled Ings had no liability for negligence. The court granted Ings’s motion for summary judgment.

The Court of Appeal reversed in the unpublished case of Bussard v. Ings.

Section 2750.5 establishes a “rebuttable presumption” that a worker performing services for which a license is required is an “employee rather than an independent contractor” for purposes of workers’ compensation.

A person is an “employee” for purposes of Cal-OSHA if he is directed by an employer “to engage in any employment.” (Lab. Code, § 6304.1, subd. (a).) “‘Employment’ includes the carrying on of any trade, enterprise, project, industry, business, occupation, work . . . except household domestic service.” (Lab. Code, § 6303, subd. (b).) “OSHA does not define ‘household domestic service.’ Nor does the relevant legislative history offer any guidance on the meaning of the phrase.”

“[O]wnership and rental of a house by an individual for the purpose of supplemental income, when such owner has no particular or principal business, is not a business within the contemplation of the [Workers’ Compensation] Act.” (Stewart v. WCAB, supra, 172 Cal.App.3d at pp. 354, 355-356.)

The Workers’ Compensation Act has different language and a different history than Cal-OSHA. Both sets of laws trace their roots to legislation passed in 1913 and originally used the term “household domestic service” to refer to a class of excluded employees. There, the similarities end. Workers’ compensation contained an additional excluded class of employees consisting of any person whose duties were “both casual and not in the usual course of the trade, business, profession or occupation of his employer.”

Bussard’s work may have qualified as maintenance work. However, Ings’s income-producing triplexes are not the equivalent of a private home. He does not live in either triplex and they are not located on the premises or grounds of his home. The above regulations suggest that Bussard’s maintenance work on Ings’s rental property is not “domestic household service.”