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Employee's auto accident on way home from business meeting not company's fault

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A company whose employee hit and killed another motorist after having dinner and drinks with a client is not liable because the employee was “going and coming” from work when the tragedy occurred, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Curt Carlson, an employee of Seven Corners, caused the accident on his way home after an evening of dinner and drinks with a company client. Eboni Dodson’s estate argued Carlson was acting within the scope of his employment when he struck Dodson and, therefore, Seven Corners is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

The trial court disagreed and granted summary judgment for Seven Corners on the estate's claims of wrongful death and negligence. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in Phyllis Dodson, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Eboni Dodson, Deceased v. Curt D. Carlosn, Carmel Hotel Company, d/b/a/ Grille 39, Seven Corners, Inc., et al., 49A04-1305-CT-267.

Pointing to the “going and coming” exception to the respondeat superior doctrine, the Court of Appeals found that driving to his house after the business dinner was not part of Carlson’s normal job duties. The COA agreed with Seven Corners that Carlson was on personal time when the accident occurred.   

“…there is no evidence in the case before us that (Carlson) was, at the time of the accident, in any way ‘engaged in a task incidental to his everyday employment,’” Judge Melissa May wrote for the court. “Rather, he had completed all tasks incident to his employment and was going home.”

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