Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Under the rule of imputed knowledge, the law imputes an agent's knowledge to the principal, even if the principal does not actually know what the agent knows. More specifically, knowledge of material facts acquired by an agent in the course of his employment, and within the scope of his authority, is the knowledge of the principal, and when no actual knowledge of the principal is shown, the rule will be given the effect on the theory of constructive knowledge, resting on the legal principle that it is the duty of the agent to disclose to his principal all material facts coming to his knowledge, and upon the presumption that he has discharged that duty. However, when an agent, acting within the scope of employment, commits an independent tort for his own benefit, the principal must have some knowledge or reason to know of the agent's conduct before liability will attach pursuant to the imputed knowledge doctrine.
BGC Entertainment, appellants-defendants, was a bar and entertainment club. BGC has a policy that prohibits its bartenders and waitresses from consuming any alcohol while working, although they are permitted to have one free drink at the end of their shifts. Candice Vowell and her mother were an employee of the defendant as cocktail waitress. After the bar closed and while the staff was completing their usual end-of-shift reporting and clean-up, one of the bartenders poured a shot of vodka for Cindy as her complimentary end-of-shift drink. When both of them clocked out neither of them doubted that Candice was fit to drive herself home. As she was driving, Candice collided with Jerry Buchanan, who was walking in the roadway. She was unsure of what did she crashed into and although they were unsure of neither of them stopped to investigate. However, an oncoming motorist had witnessed the entire event and reported it to 911 and waited emergency personnel arrived. Candice called the police to report her involvement in the accident. She pleaded guilty to one Count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, a Class D felony, Ind. Code § 9-30-5-4(a)(1)(A) (2013). Odell Buchanan, appellee, who was the father of the victim filed an Amended Complaint and alleged that appellants violated its statutory and common law duty to make sure that its employees did not become intoxicated during and after their employment before they took to the streets on their way home from work. He also filed a motion for partial summary judgment, contending that Candice’s actual knowledge of her own intoxication should be imputed to appellant as her employer. Appellant filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that they were not liable for the damages caused by their employee’s intoxication under either the Dram Shop Act or the common law because there is no evidence that appellant had actual knowledge that Candice was visibly intoxicated when she was served an alcoholic beverage. The trial court conducted a summary judgment hearing and denied the parties' cross-motions.
Was the appellant liable for its employees act after having consumed alcoholic drinks while at work?
No. The judgment was affirmed.
The court held that the appellant’s summary judgment motion was denied under Indiana's Dram Shop Act, Ind. Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5(b)(1) because there was a genuine issue of fact over whether the appellant furnished alcohol to the employee with actual knowledge that she was visibly intoxicated. Also, it was denied as it pertained to the common law because there was a genuine issue of material fact over whether the appellant breached its duty to supervise the employee's conduct during her shift. On the other, the court held that the appellee’s summary judgment motion was appropriately denied because even assuming the imputed knowledge doctrine applies, the evidence established that the employee had no knowledge of her own level of intoxication to be imputed to the appellant.