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Supreme Court of California

State of California ex rel. Department of the California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court of Orange County (Alvarado), S214221

Under the Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) Act, motorists receive free emergency roadside assistance as a public service on California's highways. In this case, FSP tow truck driver Guzman hit a car on the interstate, injuring real party in interest Alvarado and her child. Alvarado sued Guzman, California Coach Orange (Guzman's employer, who was contracted with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)), the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the California Department of Transportation (Caldrons), and the OCTA. CHP moved for summary judgment, and for the purposes of the motion, the parties stipulated that the sole theory of recovery against CHP was that it was Guzman's "special employer." The Court of Appeal directed entry of summary judgment. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed, where: 1) despite the fact that the FSP statutes, as written, are incompatible with a special employment relationship between CHP and tow truck drivers, this conclusion does not foreclose the possibility that CHP might act as a special employer in particular circumstances; and 2) the statutes authorize CHP to perform certain functions, but do not bar it from taking on other responsibilities.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 02/26/2015
  • Published 02/26/2015


  • Corrigan


  • Supreme Court of California


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