Negligent Hiring

School Districts: Vicarious & Direct Liability

By on April 22, 2012 - Comments off

C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School, (Supreme Court of California, March 8, 2012) 54 Cal.4th 861, 270 P.3d 699, 138 Cal.Rptr.3d 1, 276 Ed. Law Rep. 1048, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 2817, 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 3131

A teenage boy who alleged he was sexually molested by his high school guidance counselor filed an action against the school district and the counselor. The complaint alleged that the counselor had “sexually harassed, abused and molested” the plaintiff on a number of occasions over a period of eight months, and asserted causes of action against the school and the district for, inter alia, negligence, negligent supervision, and negligent hiring and/or retention.

The district demurred to the complaint, arguing that it could not be held liable in tort in the absence of an authorizing statute or enactment, that it could not be vicariously liable for the actions of the counselor, and that allegations of negligent hiring, training and supervision do not apply to a public entity. The trial court sustained the district’s demurrer without leave to amend, and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that the facts as alleged did not support a claim for vicarious liability. The court also held that no statute allowed a direct cause of action for negligence against the district, and that no mandatory duty subjected the district to liability.

However, the California Supreme Court reversed, holding that a public school district may be vicariously liable under Government Code § 815.2 for the negligence of administrators or supervisors in hiring, supervising and retaining a school employee who sexually harasses and abuses a student: Read the rest »


Negligent Entrustment: Trucking Accident

By on August 10, 2011 - Comments off

Diaz v. Carcamo, (California Supreme Court, June 23, 2011) — P.3d —-, 2011 WL 2473597
A woman who was injured in a freeway collision filed an action for negligence against the driver of a truck which collided with her vehicle. The plaintiff also sued the driver’s employer under a theory of negligent hiring and retention. The defendant employer offered to admit vicarious liability, arguing that, under Armenta v. Churchill (1954) 42 Cal.2d 448, its admission should preclude a cause of action for negligent hiring, retention and entrustment. However, at trial the court permitted the plaintiff to proceed on the negligent hiring and retention theory, and over objection of the defendants, allowed evidence of the driver’s prior accidents and employment history.

The court of appeal affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, holding that Armenta was distinguishable because it involved entrustment instead of hiring, and did not involve an allocation of comparative fault. However, the California Supreme Court reversed, holding that where an employer admits vicarious liability for any negligent driving by its employees, a plaintiff may not pursue a negligent entrustment, hiring or retention claim: Read the rest »


Negligent Hiring: Post-Termination Misconduct

By on June 2, 2009 - Comments off

Phillips v. TLC Plumbing, Inc., (4th District, April 3, 2009) — Cal.Rptr.3d. —-, 2009 WL 884938, 09 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4215

A woman whose mother was murdered by a former plumbing repairman, filed an action for wrongful death against the plumbing service which had employed him. The plaintiff alleged that her mother met the repairman when he had been dispatched to her home by the defendants, and that they had started a relationship following his termination. The plaintiff further alleged that although the murder occurred two years after the repairman had been terminated, the defendants were aware at the time he was hired that he was on parole, and that he had been convicted of domestic violence and/or arson involving his former wife.

The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that they could not be held vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because there was no employer-employee relationship at the time of the killing. The court also found that it was not reasonably foreseeable that the repairman would enter into a personal relationship with the victim which would later lead to a shooting and killing two years later. The court of appeal affirmed, holding that an employer does not owe a plaintiff a duty of care in a negligent hiring and retention action for an injury inflicted by a former employee: Read the rest »

Posted in: Negligent Hiring