GRSLBG&B’s Chris Zevlikaris recently obtained Summary Judgment in the Superior Court of New Jersey on behalf of an employer in a personal injury matter where its employee attempted an improper turn, failed to yield at an intersection, and struck the Plaintiff’s car head on. The Plaintiff sustained multi-level lumbar and cervical disc abnormalities necessitating a lumbar fusion. Plaintiff originally filed a Complaint against the employee only; however, at his deposition it was determined that the accident occurred while the driver was on his lunch break. Accordingly, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against the employer, alleging that they were vicariously liable for the actions of their employee. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be found liable for the negligence of an employee when the employee is acting within the scope of his employment.
Based upon the objective facts of the case, the arguments advanced were that the employer could not be vicariously responsible for the actions of their employee as the accident occurred during the employee’s personal time, and thus, no plausible or legal nexus existed between the employee’s conduct and his employment. In response, Plaintiff filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment seeking a judicial determination that the employer was responsible for their employee’s negligence.
Based upon prevailing law, the Trial Court granted Summary Judgment in favor of the employer, thus denying Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion, as the Trial Court found that the employer could not be found vicariously liable for the conduct of their employee while he was on his personal time, as the employer derived no benefit from the employee’s conduct. Specifically, the Court found that the overwhelming evidence demonstrated that the employer exercised no control over the employee at the time of the accident, despite the fact that he was compensated for his time. Additionally, the Court found support under the “going and coming” rule where an employer is not responsible for the conduct of their employees while they are traveling to or from work.
Congratulations Chris on a job well done!