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Road Rage Victim May Not Hold the Employer of the Assailant Liable
Description Appeals court affirmed dismissal of a suit brought by a man who was assaulted by a truck driver. Although the truck driver was working at the time of the assault, the violent attack was not in the scope of employment.
Topic Agency
Key Words Master and Servant; Scope of Employment; Vicarious Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Nichols, driving a pickup, and Gonzalez, driving a truck, got into a dispute over the way Gonzalez was driving. When they stopped at a light, Gonzalez attacked Nichols, beat him, and stabbed him. Gonzalez was convicted of assault. Nichols sued Land Transport for personal injuries he suffered in the attack by their employee, contending that Land was vicariously liable since Gonzalez was acting in the course of employment as a driver. The district court dismissed the suit. Nichols appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Maine courts apply the test of the Restatement (Second) of Agency to determine whether an employee's conduct is within the scope of employment. According to 228 of the Restatement, "The fact that the servant acts in an outrageous manner or inflicts a punishment out of all proportion to the necessities of his master's business is evidence indicating that the servant has departed from the scope of employment in performing the act." Therefore, "a servant's tort is committed in the scope of employment only if it is actuated, at least in part, by a purpose to serve the master. It is not enough that the tort arises out of an employment-related dispute."
Citation Nichols v. Land Transport Corp., 2000 WL 1141068 (1st Cir., 2000)

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