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An employee is acting within the course and scope of his employment while on a job connected mission which the employer had reason to expect would be performed. When, at the time of an accident, the employee is on a mission contemplated by employer and employee for which he is to be compensated, the employee is within the scope of his employment. Among the factors to be weighed in determining an employer's responsibility for the tort of an employee are: the time, place and purpose of the act in relation to service of the employer; the relationship between the employee's act and the employer's business; and the reasonable expectation of the employer that the employee would perform the act.
Ricky Paul Leger, a resident of Church Point, Louisiana, was employed near Denham Springs, Louisiana, in Livingston Parish, as a motorman at an oil well workover. On August 14, Leger and the other employees set up the rig which had been brought in on trucks from Abbeville. Leger had traveled in the last truck. The men finished work between 6:00 and 8:00 P.M. Leger had had to leave his automobile in Abbeville and returned with one of the truck drivers to retrieve it. He was on the road most of the night bringing his car to the well site. On August 15, Leger and a co-worker, Joseph Matte, had driven five or six miles to eat dinner at the McDonald's in Denham Springs and were returning to the rig site. Leger was exhausted (due to his seven-day work week composed of 12-hour shifts), closed his eyes momentarily, and opened them to see bright lights. Another car was coming out of a curve to Leger's right and he believed that both vehicles were over the center line. There was virtually a head-on collision between Leger's automobile and an automobile driven by Steven W. Michaleski carrying Sherri Michaleski, Arnold L. McLin, Jr., Debbie McLin, and Jaesa McLin as passengers. The Michaleskis sued various defendants, employers and insurance companies. Various defendants filed motions for summary judgment supported by depositions, alleging that Leger was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Summary judgment was granted to all defendants.
Did the trial court err in granting summary judgment on the ground that Ricky Paul Leger was not in the course and scope of his employment during the accident?
An oil company employee, working "seven days on" with living quarters and a food and gas allowance furnished by the employer, who is returning to the work place from a necessary trip for himself and a co-worker to eat is in the course of his employment. Such a journey is necessitated by the employment, since all the men had to leave the rig site to purchase groceries or a meal. This case is comparable to Sellers v. Dixilyn Corporation, Where plaintiff had completed his seven days on the rig and was not answerable to the call of duty as he drove home to commence his seven days on shore. Amoco's rig site here was not offshore. However, the very denomination of this employment indicates that Leger was at work during the "seven days on" at the rig site. Returning from a trip to buy food was an activity arising out of the nature of the employment. The employer anticipated the necessity of these temporary absences, because it compensated the employees with a per diem for their food and gasoline expenses. All of these employees were required to obtain meals or groceries away from the rig site and were furnished an allowance for that purpose. Leger did not deviate either in route or time on his errand. In sum, Leger's negligence was the result of exhaustion, a foreseeable consequence of a hard twelve hour day. Since the risk of harm could reasonably be attributed to the employer's business, it cannot be said as a matter of law that Leger was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the automobile accident.