RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR AND AGENCY: EASTERLING V. MAN-O-WAR AUTOMOTIVE, INC. (COA 4/20/2007)

EASTERLING V. MAN-O-WAR AUTOMOTIVE, INC.
TORTS:  Vicarious liability (respondeat superior and scope of employment)
2005-CA-000114
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING; DIXON
DATE RENDERED: 4/20/2007

This case arose from a one-car accident.  The passenger Easterling sued Tudor and his employer Man-O-War successfully obtained a dismissal at summary judgment who defended on the grounds that since Tudor was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, the theory of respondeat superior liability was inapplicable.  Tudor was a sales manager at Man-O-War who was given concert tickets by the owner and was driver a "demonstrator vehicle" when he was traveling from the concert with Easterling and another person as a passenger when the accident occurred.

To hold an employer vicariously liable for the actions of an employee, the doctrine of respondeat superior requires a showing that the employee’s actions were in the course and scope of his employment and in furtherance of the employer’s business. As was noted in Sharp v. Faulkner, 166 S.W.2d 62, 63 (Ky. 1942), the respondeat superior doctrine has no application when an employee engages on a “personal and private trip” which has “no connection with his masters’ business.”

The COA could not perceive how giving someone concert tickets meets the necessary “foreseeability test” required in Kentucky to create causation for a subsequent automobile accident. See Lewis v. B&R Corp., 56 S.W.3d 432 (Ky.
App. 2001) and held that at the time of the collision, Tudor was engaged in a purely personal activity, and was not in any manner acting within the scope and course of his employment.

Digest by Michael Stevens

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