Court Finds At-Fault Driver’s Employer Not Liable Under Vicarious Liability Theory

Last month, an appellate court in California issued an interesting opinion regarding when a negligent driver’s employer can also be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. In the case, Jorge v. Culinary Institute of America, the court ultimately determined that since the fatal accident occurred while the defendant’s employee was on his way home from work and was not engaged in any work-related activity, the defendant was not vicariously liable for the employee’s actions.

The Facts of the Case

Da Fonseca worked for the defendant, the Culinary Institute of America. He was an instructor who worked primarily at one location but occasionally did some consulting for the defendant at various other locations. On the day of the accident, Jorge was his way home from work with his chef’s jacket and knives in the car. At some point on his commute back home, he struck and killed Jorge, a 14-year-old boy, with his car.

Jorge’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Da Fonseca and the Culinary Institute. Da Fonseca and Jorge’s family reached a mutually acceptable settlement agreement, so the case proceeded only against the Culinary Institute. The Institute’s request to dismiss the case based on a lack of vicarious liability was denied, and after a jury trial, a verdict of roughly $885,000 was awarded to Jorge’s family.

The Culinary Institute appealed the issue of whether Da Fonseca was acting as an employee of the Culinary Institute at the time of the accident. The court determined that Da Fonseca was not acting as an employee at the time of the accident, and therefore the Culinary Institute was not liable to Jorge’s family. The court reasoned that the accident occurred during Da Fonseca’s commute home, rather than during any work-related activity. The court explained that in some cases, an act of negligence on a commute may result in employer liability, but the facts present in this case did not warrant vicarious liability. As a result, Jorge’s family will not be permitted to seek recovery from the Culinary Institute and will be left with the award they obtained though their settlement with Da Fonseca.

Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Car or Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you cover the costs associated with the accident. It is important to keep in mind that all potentially liable parties should be named as defendants, since a failure to do so may result in an unnecessary delay or even a limitation on your recovery amount. To learn more about how employers may be held responsible for the negligent acts of their employees, call the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse at 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation today.

Related Posts:

Appellate Court Upholds $3.75 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict Stemming from Improperly Sanitized Medical Equipment, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2016

Court Broadly Interprets Good Samaritan Law to Include Non-Medical Professionals Who Provide Any Kind of Emergency Treatment, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, September 20, 2016

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