May 24, 2024

Respondeat Superior

Respondeat superior is when an employee is responsible for an employee’s torts. For an employer to be responsible for an employee’s tort, the employee needs to cause the personal injury while working. When this happens, the personal injury plaintiff can sue the employer, who is likely to have more ability to pay damages than the employee.

If a plaintiff sues an employer to get a deep pockets the defendant may file a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case if the defendant is not liable. An employee’s scope of employment depends on whether the risk involved was typical or incidental to the enterprise undertaken by the employer. When the employee’s conduct substantially deviates from his duties, it is unjust to hold the employer liable. If the main purpose of the damage-producing act was not in pursuit of the employee’s personal ends, the employer is not liable.

For example, at the time of a vehicle accident, the employee is driving his own ’77 Ford Thunderbird, on his way to visit his girlfriend. The employee is not under the direction of defendant to visit his girlfriend. Visiting his girlfriend is a purely personal activity, and does not further defendant’s interests.

Where, an agent, for however brief a period, has ceased to serve his principal, the agent alone is responsible for his acts during the period of such cessation. For example, it would be unjust to hold defendant liable for plaintiff’s injuries if the employee does not act within his scope of employment, and defendant does not benefit from his visit to a girlfriend.

Generally, if it is an implied or express condition of employment that an employee uses his or her vehicle in attending duties, then the employer is liable for any accident incurred while the employee is driving to and from work. If a defendant does not entrust an employee with a motor vehicle, and an employee is not driving an employer vehicle at the time of an injury-producing incident, the employer is less likely liable for the employee’s accident. If the employee is driving his personal vehicle, and the vehicle financed by the employee, and the employee’s duties do not necessitate a car, the employee is not considered to be acting in course and scope of his employment while he drives his car.

An employer is not liable for an employee’s act, if the act was not connected in any way with the services for which the employee was employed.

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