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An employee's tortious conduct will be found to be within the scope of employment when the tortious conduct is of the same general nature as that authorized or incidental to the conduct authorized. An employer will be held liable for the act of his employee, even if the act is contrary to express orders, if it is done within the general authority of the employee. Thus, an employer may be vicariously liable for an intentional tort when the act, although not specifically authorized by the employer, is closely connected with the employee's authorized duties, that is, if the intentional tort is committed in the accomplishment of a duty entrusted to the employee, rather than because of personal animosity. When an employee commits an assault, it is for the trier of fact to determine whether the employee ceased to act as an employee and acted instead upon his own responsibility.
Appellee, Michael Gonzalez, brought a suit for negligence against appellant, G.T. Management, Inc. d/b/a Club 2551, alleging that he was injured by the appellant’s bouncers. The appellee pleaded respondeat superior, averring that the bouncers, who were "agents, servants, and/or employees" of the club "were acting within the course and scope of their employment." The club did not dispute that it employed the bouncers, but contended that it could not have been held vicariously liable for any assault, as assault was contrary to its policies and was necessarily an expression of personal animosity. The district court found in favor of the appellee, and awarded him $ 30,000, costs, and pre- and post-judgment interest. Appellant’s motion for new trial was overruled by operation of law. Appellant challenged the decision.
Could the appellant be held vicariously liable for the actions of its bouncers?
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the evidence showed that the bouncers were authorized to use force, and their assault of the appellee was incidental to their use of that force. Considering only the evidence supporting the trial court's implied finding that bouncers employed by the club committed an assault while acting as employees, the evidence was legally sufficient to support the finding.