John M. Kirby
Respondeat Superior -- North Carolina
In a case from 2010, the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of "respondeat superior," which is the legal principle under which an employer is liable for the negligence of its employees. In this case, the employee worked as a cashier, and she had "clocked-out" for the day. Prior to leaving the premises, she went to the bathroom in the store. She apparently entered the bathroom at a brisk pace, and somehow caused a patron in the bathroom to fall to the floor, sustaining injuries. The patron sued the employer (Food Lion), arguing that it was liable for the negligence of its employee (in the manner in which she entered the restroom). The employer argued that the employee had "clocked-out," and thus was not in the course and scope of her employment. The patron responded that the incident occurred on the employer's premises. The court agreed with the employer, and held that after the employee clocked-out, the employer did not retain control over the employee, and the employer was not liable (even though the incident occurred on the premises). Matthews v. Food Lion (2010).
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