Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Under the doctrine of respondent superior, an employer can be held vicariously liable for the tortious acts of its employees, including negligent, willful, malicious, or even criminal acts of its employees when such acts are committed in the course of employment and in furtherance of the business of the employer.
The decedent, Steven Berger, and appellant Susan Delanty were passengers in a two-seater sports car that was driven by defendant Daniel Baum (Baum). Defendant and passengers volunteered as camp leaders for defendant Ronald McDonald House Near Children's Memorial Hospital (Ronald McDonald House). Following a mandatory meeting, they went to a bar to socialize. Baum lost control of the vehicle and had an accident. Delanty and appellant David Alms, the independent administrator of the estate of the deceased Berger, filed suit against Baum and defendant Ronald McDonald House based on a theory of respondent superior. Ronald McDonald House subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. On appeal, the appellants argued that the trial court erred when it determined that Baum was not acting as an agent of the Ronald McDonald House when the accident occurred because the weekend as a whole was a mandatory working weekend. The passengers also contended that the defendant driver was acting within the scope of the master-servant relationship because he was transporting two camp leaders back to the camp from a place where they had been conducting camp business.
Was Baum acting as an agent of the Ronald McDonald House when the accident occurred, thereby making the latter liable for the tortious act of the defendant driver based on the theory of respondent superior?
In upholding the trial court's grant of summary judgment, the appellate court concluded that although the driver did have a master-servant relationship with the charity he was not acting within the scope that relationship when the accident occurred. At the conclusion of the meeting, all official camp business ended. The driver went to the bar to socialize, not with the intent to benefit the charity. The driver' act was gratuitous and not within the scope of his employment.