Thursday, January 5, 2012

Judge Carmen D. Minora of Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas Addresses Negligent Hiring/Supervision Issues

In his recent decision in the case of Delvecchio v. St. Joseph’s Center, No. 2003-Civil-2950 (C.P. Lacka. 2011 Minora, J. ), Judge Carmen D. Minora of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas reviewed the law pertaining to negligent supervision claims in a case in which the Plaintiff accused the employer, St. Joseph’s Center, of negligently supervising its employee with respect to that employee’s care of a mentally disabled patient. According to the opinion, this matter stems from allegations of sexual assault against the patient by an employee of the Defendant, St. Joseph’s Center.

The case came before the court by way of the Defendant’s summary judgment on various issues, including an argument that the actions of the employee were outside the scope and course of the employee’s employment and that there was no factual basis to support a claim of negligent supervision.

After setting out the applicable law in great detail on the various claims presented, Judge Minora ultimately ruled that the Plaintiff would be allowed to proceed to the jury on the claim of vicarious liability against the employer given the factual issues presented.

The court also denied the Defendant employer’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of negligent supervision over the employee.

The court also allowed the Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages to proceed to a jury as well.

Judge Minora did grant the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of negligent hiring of the employee as there was no evidence that the employer knew or should have known, at the time of hiring, that the employee would harm a third party. The record before the court revealed that the employer had completed a criminal background check and obtained a child abuse clearance on the employee.

The decision by Judge Minora in the case of Delvecchio v. St. Joseph’s Center serves as a nice primer on the liability of employers for the acts of their employees causing injury and damages to third persons. Anyone desiring a copy of this decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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