California Code, Vehicle Code - VEH § 17152

In any action against an owner, bailee of an owner, or personal representative of a decedent on account of liability imposed by Sections 17150 , 17154 , or 17159 for the negligent or wrongful act or omission of the operator of a vehicle, the operator shall be made a party defendant if service of process can be made in a manner sufficient to secure personal jurisdiction over the operator.  Upon recovery of judgment, recourse shall first be had against the property of the operator so served.

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