Morrison Law Journal
Morrison Law Group logo

The Morrison Law Journal
July 2016
Volume XI, Edition 7

When Premises Liability Extends Beyond An Owner's Property:
Court Of Appeal Rules That Church May Be Liable In Negligence Action
Brought By Parishioner Who Parked In Overflow Parking Lot Across The Street
From The Church And Then Suffered Injuries When An Automobile Struck The
Parishioner While He Was Traversing The Street In Order To Attend A Church

By: Edward F. Morrison, Jr., Esq.
Larry A. Schwartz, Esq.

As many are aware, the California Supreme Court has identified several considerations involving liability for owners of premises by persons injured on the owner's property. See, Rowland v. Christian (1968) 69 Cal.2nd 108. However, one question that has arisen over time is whether there is a duty of care in the first place for injuries that occur off site, that is, for accidents involving an invitee who is injured while not on the owner's property. In the case of Aleksandr Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 146 ("Vasilenko"), the apparent answer to the question is yes.

In Vasilenko, plaintiff Aleksandr Vasilenko suffered injuries while crossing a busy five-lane road on his way from an overflow parking lot controlled and staffed by defendant Grace Family Church ("Grace Church") in order to attend a function at the church. Vasilenko filed sued against the Grace Church alleging that the Grace Church negligently located its overflow parking lot in an area that required invitees to cross a busy street where they may be hit by an automobile and by failing to protect him from that risk.

The Grace Church filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that no duty of care was owed because the accident occurred on a public street not owned or controlled by the Grace Church. The trial court granted summary judgment. On appeal, the Court of Appeal, Third District, reversed the grant of summary judgment holding that, while in most cases where there is no ownership or control of the situs of the accident, there can be no duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent injury, the duty of care to a property owner can extend for injuries suffered off site where, in this case, the location of the parking lot, not the location of the injury, could be construed to be the cause of the accident. In that regard, the Court of Appeal ruled that the "salient fact" involved whether the Grace Church controlled the location and operation of its overflow parking lot, which Vasilenko alleges caused or at least contributed to


his injury, and not whether the Grace Church controlled the public street where Vasilenko was injured.

It should be noted that, in a stinging dissent, Justice Raye argued that the Grace Church was not a property manager and further noted that parking lots servicing multiple businesses are frequently located next to busy streets and there should not be a duty of care.

The Vasilenko case could have significant implications for owners of property who provide parking which is across a public street which is required to be traversed in order to obtain access to the defendant owner's property.

About the Authors: Edward F. Morrison, Jr. is the founding partner and Larry A. Schwartz is Of Counsel to The Morrison Law Group, a professional corporation. Their biographies can be viewed at

Publication Note: The Morrison Law Group wishes to disseminate this publication to all clients and colleagues of the Firm who wish to receive it. Should any recipient desire to be removed from the distribution list, or wishes to have a colleague added, please contact Jim Van Dusen at The Morrison Law Group at 213 356-5504 or

Disclaimer Note: The legal article presented above is intended to provide general information which may be of interest or use to clients and colleagues of The Morrison Law Group and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter.