SW Legal studies in Business

Driving to Meal When on Road for Employer Is Within Scope of Employment
Description

Appeals court held that an employer is vicariously liable for actions of an employee who was in an accident when driving to a restaurant to eat while on temporary assignment in another city. Since it was an out-of-town assignment, the employer is liable for normal activities involved in such travel.

Topic

Agency

Key Words

Vicarious Liability; Scope of Employment

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Kimbro, an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer, was working in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on assignment from Phoenix. After his shift ended, he was driving to a restaurant with another officer when he carelessly ran into the back of a car that was stopped. The driver he hit, McCloud, filed an administrative claim against the state but did not sue Kimbro until more than one year after the accident. Under Arizona law, there is a one-year statute of limitations for actions filed against state employees. The district court dismissed the suit due to the statute of limitations. McCloud appealed, contending that the suit was against Kimbro personally, not in his capacity as a state employee, so a longer statute of limitations applied and the suit could proceed. The issue then was whether Kimbro was acting within the scope of his employment a the time of the accident.

Decision

Affirmed. For purposes of an employer's vicarious liability, an employee's conduct is within the scope and course of employment only if: 1) it is the kind he is employed to perform, 2) it occurs substantially within the authorized time and space limits; and 3) it is actuated, at least in part, by a purpose to serve the employer. Officer Kimbro was off duty when on the way to a restaurant but was within the course and scope of his employment, hence the DPS is responsible for his actions. He was traveling from Phoenix to Sierra Vista on temporary assignment. Going to eat was a normal incident of a multi-day assignment. When an employee is on out-of-town travel he subjects his employer to vicarious liability when traveling to and from a restaurant for a meal.

Citation

McClous v. Kimbro, ---P.3d--- (2010 WL 1038782, Ct. App., Ariz., 2010)

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