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|1||Show/Hide More||VIII.Supp.A. Supplemental Cases and Materials|
|1.1||Show/Hide More||Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States|
While drunk, a member of the United States Coast Guard opened the valves of plaintiff’s drydock, causing parts of it to sink. The seaman was at the drydock because he was returning to his ship to sleep. The operation of the drydock’s valves had nothing to do with his duties as a seaman. Plaintiff sued the United States government for the damage to the drydock.
Can employers be liable for their employees’ random acts of drunkenness? Should an employer have broad liability for their employee’s destructive behavior, if it is “foreseeable” that their labor force will cause property damage from time to time? The court wrestles with these questions in this case.
|2||Show/Hide More||VIII.Supp.B. Supplemental Cases and Materials|
|2.1||Show/Hide More||Konradi v. United States|
While driving to work, defendant’s employee—a rural mailman—strikes the car of the plaintiff and kills him.
This case contemplates whether an employee can be within the scope of his employment while commuting, and under what particular circumstances. The court also uses an alternative definition of “scope of employment”, by considering to what extent employer liability would create beneficial (safer) changes in employee activity.
|2.2||Show/Hide More||Forster v. Red Top Sedan Service|
Plaintiff was driving in front of defendant’s bus, operated by defendant’s employee (Breines). Breines used his bus to force plaintiff’s car to stop or enter a collision. After plaintiff stopped, Breines exited his bus and walked over to the driver’s door of the plaintiff’s car. He then opened the driver’s door, swore at the plaintiff for delaying his schedule, and tried to reach for the car keys while pushing plaintiff in the face. Breines also struck the plaintiff’s wife when she tried to protect her husband’s face from being pushed.
Can an employee’s overly zealous, violent or aggressive conduct still remain in the scope of their duties? What if that conduct includes intentional torts, such as battery and assault? This case addresses those questions.
|2.3||Show/Hide More||Reina v. Metropolitan Dade County|
Plaintiff boarded defendant’s bus, operated by an employee (Koch) of the defendant. Because the plaintiff failed to pay the exact fare, Koch let the plaintiff off the bus in an inconvenient fashion. As the plaintiff departed the bus, he made an obscene gesture to Koch. At that point, Koch pulled the bus off to the side of the road, chased after the plaintiff, and beat him.
This case explores the boundaries of an employer’s liability for their employee’s intentional torts.
|2.4||Show/Hide More||Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Kendall|
Plaintiff was struck by a motorcycle. The operator of the motorcycle (Molesworth) was delivering defendant’s newspaper. It is unclear what the employment status of Molesworth was at the time of the accident. Plaintiff insists that Molesworth was an employee and that defendant was therefore vicariously liable for her injuries. Defendant insists that Molesworth was an independent contractor, relieving the company of vicarious liability.
This case demonstrates how courts determine whether a particular actor is an independent contractor or an employee.
|2.5||Show/Hide More||Murrell v. Goertz|
Defendant was collecting monthly payments for newspaper subscriptions. Plaintiff, a subscriber, questioned defendant about damage to her screen door due to newspapers being thrown at it. An argument ensued, in which plaintiff slapped the defendant, who then struck back.
This case discusses the circumstances which render the determination of independent contract status a question of law, and not a question of fact.
|2.6||Show/Hide More||Baptist Memorial Hospital System v. Sampson|
Appellee was bitten by a venomous spider. She was taken to the emergency room in the appellant's hospital. The emergency room physician misdiagnosed the venomous bite as an allergic reaction. Fourteen hours later, with her condition rapidly deteriorating, appellee went to another hospital where she was admitted to the intensive care unit in septic shock. There, appellee received the proper treatment which saved her life. Appellee sued the appellant on a theory of vicarious liability, as the emergency room physicians were not employees as a matter of law.
Should hospitals be liable for the misdiagnoses of physicians that they hire as independent contractors?
|2.7||Show/Hide More||Smalich v. Westfall|
Two automobiles collided. In one car was plaintiff, her son, and Westfall. Plaintiff owned the vehicle, but Westfall was driving. Blank was driving the other car. Westfall’s negligent driving was found to be a proximate cause of the collision.
Will Westfall’s contributory negligence prevent plaintiff from recovering against Blank? To answer this question, the court made a predicate inquiry: whether plaintiff and Westfall had a relationship which made plaintiff vicariously liable for Westfall’s driving. This case illustrates the doctrine of imputed contributory negligence.
September 18, 2015
Harvard Law School
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