Gaylard v. Homemakers of Montgomery

675 So.2d 363 (Ala. 1996)

 

RULE:

An employer is vicariously liable for the negligence of their employee.

FACTS:

A nursing home patient was severely burned by hot water when an employee at the nursing home was giving her a bath. The patient sued the nursing home for the employee’s negligence. Before the patient sued the nursing home, her attorney spoke to the employee over the phone about the incident, which was a violation of the Professional Code of Ethics. During this conversation, the employee suggested that the patient was actually controlling the water temperature herself. Further, the employee testified that she did not regulate the faucets or water temperature while giving the patient a bath. There was also a suggestion that the patient may have already burned her legs before the bath or otherwise had injuries to her legs that required medical attention prior to taking the bath.

ISSUE:

Is an employer vicariously liable for the acts of their employees if the employee did not actually cause the plaintiff’s injuries?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The recorded statement by the witness was inconsistent in at least two material respects, and thus it was not harmless for the trial court to disallow its use for cross-examination of that witness. The judgment against plaintiff was reversed and remanded for a new trial.




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