SW Legal studies in Business

Employer May Be Sued for Intentional Tort to Employee if Certain Facts Are Established

Ohio appeals court allowed a suit for intentional tort, by an employee injured on the job by another employee, to go forward against the employer. The employee pleaded sufficient allegations to indicate that the employer knew that the attack by the other employee was likely to occur but took no steps to prevent it from occurring.

Topic Torts
Key Words Intentional Tort; Respondeat Superior; Workplace Injury
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts While working for Lubrizol Corporation, Occhionero was injured by a fellow employee, Edmundson, who assaulted Occhionero. Occhionero sued Lubrizol for intentional tort and on the basis of respondeat superior-"the legal theory that an employer is derivatively responsible for the torts of his employee committed within the scope of employment." The trial court dismissed the suit; Occhionero appealed.
Decision Reversed. The two causes of action are different. To sue an employer for intentional tort, the employee must plead "that the employer: (1) specifically desired to injure the employee; or (2) knew that injury to the employee was substantially certain to result from the employer's act." This pleading is more difficult to establish than is the case of respondeat superior. Occhionero alleges the Lubrizol knew that Edmundson was unstable, violent, and likely to injure Occhionero, but took no action to control Edmundson, and so willfully exposed Occhionero to a dangerous working condition. "An employer may be liable for failing to take appropriate action where that employer knows or has reason to know that one of its employees poses an unreasonable risk of harm to other employees." Hence, Occhionero has made sufficient allegations to allow the suit to go forward on both the basis of respondeat superior and of intentional tort.
Citation Occhionero v. Edmundson, 2001 WL 314821 (Ct. App., Ohio, 2001)

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