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August 31 - Newsblog #1
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Homeowner and Wife Sue over Police Shooting
September 7 - Newsblog #2
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Homeowner’s Possession of Handgun Legal Under 2nd Amendment
September 14 - Newsblog #3
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: if a Government or Government Agency is at Fault, You Can Sue
September 21 - Newsblog #4
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Lawsuit Against Police Department Invokes the Civil Rights Act
September 28 - Newsblog #5
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: a Clear Line from the Action – or Inaction – to the Injury
October 12 - Newsblog #6
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Police Insensitivity Turns Traffic Stop into a Travesty
October 19 - Newsblog #7
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Police Who Abuse Power Must Be Held Accountable, Law Professor States
October 26 - Newsblog #8
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Holding Overly Aggressive Police Accountable
November 2 - Newsblog #9
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Brown Vs. Impd Case About Much More Than Punishment or Money
November 9 - Newsblog #10
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Improper Medical Diagnosis and Care Resulted in Loss of an Eye
November 16 - Newsblog #11
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Medical Malpractice Claims Have a Front End and a Back End
November 30 - Newsblog #12
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Truths About Medical Malpractice
December 7 - Newsblog #13
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Yes, You Can Sue City Hall
December 14 - Newsblog #14
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Slip and Fall Changes Two Lives Forever
December 28 - Newsblog #15
In the News: Ramey & Hailey Year in Review
January 4 - Newsblog #16
In the News: Teen’s Sexual Abuse Case Calls Attention to the Problem
January 11 - Newsblog #17
In the News: Parents of Survivor Sue Parents of Shooter
January 18 - Newsblog #18
In the News: Erin Brockovich Teams Up with Indiana Moms
January 25 - Newsblog #19
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Case Settled in Favor of Catastrophic Slip and Fall Injury Victim
February 1 - Newsblog #20
In the News: Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Rehab Facility
February 8 - Newsblog #21
In the News: Nurse Arrested in Sexual Abuse Case
February 15 - Newsblog #22
In the News: Running the Clock on Indiana Medical Malpractice
February 22 - Newsblog #23
In the News: to Repeal or Not to Repeal – Indiana Legislators Rule “not”
March 1 - Newsblog #24
In the News: Helping Physicians Keep Helping
March 8 - Newsblog #25
In the News: Parents of Brain-damaged Infant Sue Hospital
March 15 - Newsblog #26
In the News: Owner of Gun Wins Decision
March 22 - Newsblog #27
In the News: Indiana House Passes Long Term Care Protections Bill
April 5 - Newsblog #28
In the News: Slip-and-fall Victim Wins Right to Sue Dollar Tree
April 12 - Newsblog #29
In the News: Inspection Report Shows Vets Harmed at 52 Nursing Homes
April 19 - Newsblog #30
In the News: Sandwich Diversion Causes Fatal Two-semitrailer Crash
April 26 - Newsblog #31
In the News: Does Premises Liability Cover Goose Attacks?
May 3 - Newsblog #32
Two-week-old N.y. Verdict Offers Takeaways for Slip and Fall Victims
May 10 - Newsblog #33
In the News: $7.8 Million Construction Injury Settlment Highlights Rash of New Contruction Accidents
May 17 - Newsblog #34
In the News: Barrel Blast Triggers Wrongful Death Lawsuit
May 24 - Newsblog #35
In the News: when a Product Manufacturer is Not at Fault
May 31 - Newsblog #36
In the News – College Doc’s Sexual Abuse of Students Coming to Light
June 7 - Newsblog #37
In the News – One Week, Four Motorcycle Accidents
June 14 - Newsblog #38
List of Troubled Nursing Homes Released
June 21 - Newsblog #39
In the News: Kansas No-caps Ruling Changes Personal Injury Climate
June 28 - Newsblog #40
In the News: Jury Awards $10.5 Million for Pain and Suffering in Birth Injury Case
July 5 - Newsblog #41
In the News: More Indicted in Last Year’s Duck Boat Tragedy
July 17 - Newsblog #42
In the News: Richard Hailey on Litigation Team for Lawsuit Vs. Tesla
July 24 - Newsblog #43
In the News: Malpractice Lawsuit Yields Largest Award in History
August 28 - Newsblog #44
In the News: Trucks V. Passenger Cars – Score 18:116. Everybody Loses
September 25 - Newsblog #45
Yes, Sex Trafficking is Happening in Indiana
October 30 - Newsblog #46
In the News: Product Liability Cases in 2019
November 13 - Newsblog #47
In the News: Arbitration Clauses Allowed in Indiana Nursing Home Contracts
November 27 - Newsblog #48
In the News: $101 Million Birth Injury Settlement Awarded
December 4 - Newsblog #49
In the News: High School Chaplain Suspended on Allegations of Sexual Abuse
December 11 - Newsblog #50
In the News: Franklin, Indiana Continues to Face Toxic Waste Problem
December 18 - Newsblog #51
In the News: Parents of Bus Accident Victim Awarded $20 Million
January 8 - Newsblog #52
In the News: Parents Sue After Daughter’s Brain Damaged in Surgery
January 29 - Newsblog #53
In the News: Trucking Accidents Due to Careless Driving Increase
February 19 - Newsblog #54
Indiana Authorities Buy More Time to Prosecute Child Abusers
February 26 - Newsblog #55
In the News: Teen Brain-injured at Birth Awarded $15.1 Million
March 4 - Newsblog #56
In the News: Did Connecticut School Officials Turn a Deaf Ear to Sexual or Physical Abuse?
March 18 - Newsblog #57
In the News: Facility Held to Blame for Medical Treatment Delivered in a Careless and Negligent Manner
April 1 - Newsblog #58
In the News: Emergency Measures Instituted in Indiana’s Judicial System
April 8 - Newsblog #59
In the News: Medical Malpractice Limits Challenged in California
April 15 - Newsblog #60
In the News: Indiana Supreme Court Issues Five Orders for Legal Proceedings
May 6 - Newsblog #61
In the News: Nursing Homes with Covid-19 Cases Have Been Violating Federal Infection Control Rules for Years
May 13 - Newsblog #62
In the News: Physician Not Negligent in Choosing One Treatment over Another
June 3 - Newsblog #63
In the News: Indiana Undercounting Covid-19 Deaths?
June 17 - Newsblog #64
In the News: Ruling Reverse on Police Shooting – New News, Old Story?
July 8 - Newsblog #65
In the News: What is This Thing Called Qualified Immunity?
July 15 - Newsblog #66
In the News: Sooner or Later for Virus-delayed Jury Trials
July 29 - Newsblog #67
In the News: Truck Driver Sentenced, Another Charged in Fatal Crashes
August 12 - Newsblog #68
In the News: Double-booked Doctors Cause Personal Injury to Patients
August 26 - Newsblog #69
In the News: $4.9m Auto Accident Settlement Teaches Many Lessons
September 2 - Newsblog #70
In the News: Negligence Unmasked at Pennsyvania Trial
September 9 - Newsblog #71
In the News: Double-booked Doctors Cause Personal Injury to Patients
September 27 - Newsblog #72
In the News: Heart Rhythm Drug Poisoned Patient’s Lungs
October 14 - Newsblog #73
In the News: Prisoner Vs. Prison – a Tale of Two Medical Negligence Lawsuits
October 28 - Newsblog #74
In the News: Richard Hailey Serves As Co-counsel in Tragic Texas Medical Malpractice Case
November 4 - Newsblog #75
In the News: Mesothelioma Trials Move Ahead, Pandemic Notwithstanding
November 4 - Newsblog #76
In the News: Richard Hailey Serves As Co-counsel in Tragic Medical Malpractice Case
November 4 - Newsblog #77
In the News: Mesothelioma Trials Move Ahead, Pandemic Notwithstanding
November 18 - Newsblog #78
In the News: Two-year-old Shoots Mom in Tragic Reminder of the Need for Safe Storage of Guns
December 30 - Newsblog #79
In the News: when ‘ghost Guns’ Cause Real Deaths
January 13 - Newsblog #80
In the News: when Police Dogs Cause Personal Injury to the Innocent
January 27 - Newsblog #81
In the News: Old List of Six Proves Very Relevant Today
February 24 - Newsblog #82
In the News: Indiana Nursing Homes Shielded from Covid-19 Liability Suits 

March 10 - Newsblog #83
In the News: Online Hunters out to Halt Child Abuse
March 17 - Newsblog #84
In the News: Toxic Talc Still a Problem
April 14 - Newsblog #85
In the News: Va Hospital Wrongful Death Verdict Increased After-the-fact
April 14 - Newsblog #86
Think You Don’t Need a Doctor After Being Hit by a Car? Think Again!
May 5 - Newsblog #87
In the News: Historic Police Reform and Training Bill Signed into Law
June 2 - Newsblog #88
In the News: Shaquille Kelly Shot by Police in Ft. Wayne
June 9 - Newsblog #89
In the News: Cement Plant to Pay $700k for Spewing Pollutants
June 16 - Newsblog #90
In the News: Estate of Man Killed by Police Sues Indianapolis
July 7 - Newsblog #91
In the News: Vehicular Homicide Result of Impairment and Speed
July 28 - Newsblog #92
In the News: Two Recent Drownings Call Attention to Dangers 

July 28 - Newsblog #93
Driving Phobia Ptsd Can Be Grounds for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
August 4 - Newsblog #94
In the News – Sexual Abuse Claim Ruled Outdated
August 18 - Newsblog #95
In the News – New Study Questions Pollution Levels in Franklin, Indiana
September 1 - Newsblog #96
In the News – Two Corporations Punished for Failure to Warn
September 8 - Newsblog #97
In the News – Tesla Autopilot Investigation Highlights Product Liability Issues
October 27 - Newsblog #98
In the News – Irish Hospital Apologizes to Six Year Old for Medical Injury
November 3 - Newsblog #99
In the News – Nursing Homes Fail to Report Covid-19 Deaths to Osha
November 11 - Newsblog #100
In the News: Bicycle Injuries and Fatalities Hit Home in Indiana
December 15 - Newsblog #101
In the News: Children Killed by Dui – the Wrongest of Wrongful Deaths
December 22 - Newsblog #102
In the News: Parents of Girl Who Drowned Sue City of Princeton
January 5 - Newsblog #103
In the News: 50 Indiana Children Dead of Neglect and Abuse in 2020
January 19 - Newsblog #104
Did Church Protect Pastor, Not Children?
February 16 - Newsblog #105
In the News: $10 Million Verdict in Rv/pedestrian Accident
March 30 - Newsblog #106
In the News: Carmel Priest Suspended for Alleged Child Abuse
April 20 - Newsblog #107
In the News: the Effects of Child Abuse – Way Beyond Blue Water or Pinwheels

Litigation Newsletter

Respondeat Superior – Liability of Employers for Employee Actions

In general, people are not liable for the actions of others. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. One long-standing exception is the doctrine of “respondeat superior,” a Latin term meaning “let the master answer.” Historically, the doctrine allowed recovery from a master/employer for injuries caused by a servant/employee. One rationale was that the employer ordered or approved the action and probably received some benefit from the employee’s action.

Modern Respondeat Superior

As the doctrine has been modified, the requirement that the employer specifically order or approve the action has been largely abandoned. In most jurisdictions, respondeat superior or vicarious liability holds that an employer may be liable for damages arising from an employee’s wrongful/tortious acts committed within the scope of employment. Once the relationship and scope are established, the employer becomes “strictly liable”( i.e., there is no requirement of negligence on the part of the employer).

Many associate respondeat superior with company vehicles involved in a collision with another vehicle. This application remains common, but the doctrine may also used to create employer liability for other employee actions, including sexual harassment or abuse, assaulting co-workers, misuse of e-mail, or copyright infringement. Recent actions against Catholic priests for sexual abuse often include respondeat superior charges against the Church and/or its divisions. The doctrine has even been used to create employer criminal liability for employee crimes.

Liability can be imposed for both negligent and intentional acts of employees, under certain circumstances. Analysis for imposing respondeat superior liability focuses on two issues: employee status and whether the acts occurred in within the “scope” of the employment.

Employee Status

An employer’s vicarious liability commonly arises only for actions by employees; actions of independent contractors usually do not give rise to liability, although there are exceptions. When deciding whether an individual is really an employee, courts may consider a number of factors, most of them focusing on the control exercised by the employer over the employee.

Scope of Employment

What is within the scope of employment has been a point of contention and courts have applied a wide variety of standards. One common standard provides that actions are within the scope of employment if:

  • The actions taken were the type of conduct the employee was hired to perform;
  • The actions took place substantially within the time and space limits of the employment, i.e., during working hours, at the place where the employee was to be, doing what was supposed to be done;
  • The actions were taken at least partly for the benefit of the employer; and
  • If the actions were intentionally harmful; they were foreseeable by the employer.

There are times when an employer can be held liable for actions outside the scope of employment, e.g., if the employer approved such actions. Employers may sometimes avoid liability by rules limiting and governing employee actions, but courts have tended to disregard such limitations in favor of expanding employer liability.

Determination of Scope of Employment – Example

A Virginia case illustrates the difficulties in determining if the actions are within the scope of employment. Charlotte Enger went to a store to buy groceries. While she was selecting some bananas in the produce section, the store manager told employee Geo Asfaw to pick up a stalk of celery. Asfaw went up to the manager and shouted “You do not know who I am. I am the devil. I am going to burn you.” Another employee came up and tapped Asfaw on the shoulder. Asfaw, using karate, proceeded to pummel the other employee.

One of Asfaw’s kicks narrowly missed Charlotte and her bananas. Asfaw then started to leave the store. Charlotte, somewhat shaken by the near miss, wanted to find out his name and why he was leaving. In response, as Charlotte put it, Asfaw hit her with a karate chop to the chest that sent Charlotte “flying across the floor.”

Charlotte sued Asfaw and the store, partly on respondeat superior. The judge instructed the jury that acts incidental to the store’s business and done to further the store’s interest are within the scope of employment. Acts that depart from the employee’s duties and no longer benefit the store are not. The judge also instructed that, if Asfaw’s actions arose out of an activity within the scope of employment or within the course of business, the act may be considered within the scope of employment. The jury found for Charlotte against the store, which appealed, claiming the last part of the judge’s instructions was in error.

The Virginia Supreme Court agreed with the store. It held that the last part of the judge’s instructions could erroneously allow a jury to find any actions committed during employment create liability for the employer, even if not in the ordinary course of the business or within the scope of the employee’s authority.

Further Modification in Some Jurisdictions

As noted above, the trend of the courts in many jurisdictions has been to expand the reach of respondeat superior liability. Some states have modified the doctrine to abandon the motivation test (whether there was intent to further the employer’s business). In a case involving an intentional tort, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that when employee acts are foreseeable, related, and connected with employee duties and were committed during work-related limits of time and place, they can be the basis for employer liability. Critics have argued that the employer may thus become the guarantor of employee conduct.

In a 1999 Oregon case, even time and space limitations were ignored. A supervisor coaxed another female employee to his house to help him “grieve for his brother,” then made “unwelcome advances.” Their employer was held liable. Even if the conduct was totally outside of work, the jury found that the work relationship was a “necessary precursor” to the conduct.

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