Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Summary Judgment Granted in Claim That Employee Was Driving Drunk

In the case of Huff v. Moser, No. Civil 14-S-773(C.P. Adams Co. May 14, 2018 George, J.), Judge Michael A. George of the Adams County Court of Common Pleas issued a Rule 1925 Opinion requesting the Superior Court to affirm his entry of summary judgment in a fatal motor vehicle accident case.     

In his trial court decision, Judge George concluded that the Plaintiff’s Complaint failed to allege a viable claim for vicarious liability on the part of a Defendant employer for actions of the employee who allegedly struck and killed a victim while driving the company car under the influence of alcohol. 

The court ruled in this fashion as none of the negligence allegations involved conduct committed during the course and scope of the driver’s employment.   The court emphasized that there were no specific allegations in the Complaint that the Defendant driver was working or acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident.   

The court additionally noted that, even if the Plaintiff had properly pled a claim for vicarious liability on the part of the employer for the actions of the driver, there was a lack of any factual dispute that would entitle the case to proceed to a jury on the liability issues presented.  

More specifically, the court noted that it appeared to the Plaintiff’s claim that the employer had a duty to secure a vehicle from being operated by an unlicensed driver who had been expressly prohibited from operating the vehicle. Judge George stated that he had not located any case law which placed a duty upon one to take affirmative steps to avoid criminal acts of another where there was no obvious known risk of such criminal acts.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source:  “Digest of Recent Cases.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (July 24, 2018).  

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