Factual and procedural background
Wyatt Savaikie was a 14-year-old boy who was crossing the street in a crosswalk in Santa Clarita, California on July 16, 2015, when he was struck and killed by Ralph Steger. Steger was a volunteer who provided pet therapy to patients at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. He had just completed his volunteer shift and had stopped at his bank before he hit Savaikie with his vehicle. Savaikie’s parents filed a lawsuit against Steger, the City of Santa Clarita, Southern California Edison, and the County of Los Angeles. The state of California was dismissed as a defendant, and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals was added. They argued that Kaiser was vicariously liable for Steger’s actions as his employer. They settled with all defendants except Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. Savaikie’s brother, Michael, witnessed the crash and filed a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress against the defendants.