Fahrendorff by & Through Fahrendorff v. North Homes

597 N.W.2d 905, 1999 Minn. LEXIS 516

 

RULE:

If the employee's acts were foreseeable, related to, and connected with acts otherwise within the scope of his employment, the employer is therefore liable through the doctrine of respondeat superior.

FACTS:

Respondent North Homes, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that owns and operates the I.T.A.S.K.I.N. House, a temporary crisis shelter for youths under age 18. Michelle Fahrendorff, then 15 year old, was placed there after she reported and argument she had with her parents and was sexually assaulted by David Kist, a program counselor at the home. He told her that he could help her get emancipated from her parents and that he would take care of her, kissing her and making other sexual advances towards her. She tried to refuse his advances, but it did not work. After being allowed to see her family on Easter and telling them what happened, Fahrendorff served a civil complaining, alleging that North Homes was liable for assault and battery, sexual abuse, and infliction of emotional distress under doctrines of respondeat superior and aiding and abetting. The trial court granted summary judgement in favor of North Homes, stating that Fahrendorff had failed to raise any issue of material fact because Kist was not acting within the scope of his employment when he committed the assault.

ISSUE:

Can respondeat superior can be applied to hold an employer liable when the employee acted outside the scope of his employment if the alleged acts grew out of and were in furtherance of his employment?

 

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

The Court revered and remanded for trial. On appeal from a grant of summary judgment, the reviewing court is to determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the trial court erred in its application of the law. Although Kists’s actions were not within the scope of his employment, the Court has previously held that an employee's act need not be committed in furtherance of his employer's business to fall within the scope of his employment. The master is liable for any such act of the servant which, if isolated, would not be imputable to the master, but which is so connected with and immediately grows out of another act of the servant imputable to the master. Here, Kist’s assult would not have occurred but for his employment.

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