The plaintiff in the case, Frederick Faverty, was 39 years old. Faverty was injured by the defendant employee, Matt Theurer, on April 5, 1988. Theurer was an 18-year-old employee of Mcdonald's, who fell asleep while driving home from work after working three shifts in a 24 hour period. Theurer had also worked five weeks during the preceding week. During the drive home, he crashed into another vehicle and killed. The driver of the oncoming vehicle was severely injured. The defendant in the case was charged with negligence of duty, the scope of liability, damages limited duty of negligence of Mr. Theurer due to the special relationships. The other charges included negligence of plaintiff acting out of the scope of employment, and negligence in making Mr. Theurer to work for unreasonably long hours knowing that Mr. Theurer could be a danger to himself and others in case he drove home. Some of the facts of the case were that the risks were foreseeable, the employee volunteered to work meaning that there was no negligence. The defendants motion was for a direct verdict. Mr. Theurer did not ask to be relieved and was acting out of the scope of duty. The court upheld a verdict of the plaintiff who was injured by McDonald's employee. Additionally, the trial court upheld that McDonald's restaurant should have known that their employee was a hazard to other people and himself after working for long hours.
Legal issues presented by the hypothetical
Tort liability normally arises only from the personal faults of the individual however in some instances; the courts sometimes find other parties liable for other individuals wrong acts. A good instance is when a court finds an employer to be liable when the employee injures another individual while still on the job. It is imperative to note that an employer may be liable for the torts committed by their employees under negligence or respondeat superior. Under the doctrine of respondent superior, the employer may be liable if the tort committed by the employee is done while the employee is acting within his/her scope of employment. This is because, in this instance, the employer has the power and right to control and direct the employee at the very instant of the employee's act. However, in most instances, many courts rarely hold that staff members of various organizations act within their scope of employment while commuting to and from work, therefore, the principles of negligence govern whether the employer is liable to a third party or not especially when the third party is hurt by a commuting employee. The key explanation within this reasoning is that the employer has no right to control or direct the employee over their acts. This means that the employer may be held liable for the acts of a tired employee if it is proved that the employer acted negligently.
Hypothetically, the defendant is also liable if only the defendant has a duty, the defendant has a duty and has breached that duty and finally if the defendants breach results in the injury in question. From this perspective, the employer is liable for the employees tort in the instance that the employer acts negligently by causing the employee to commit the tort. However, the employer is not negligent unless the employer breaches his/her duty. Therefore, in order for the court to decide whether the employer is liable or not liable for the injuries suffered by a third party that is caused by a fatigued employee commuting from work, the court has to determine if the employer had a duty to prevent the fatigued employee from driving home.
Legal issue in the problem
In the American tort law, there is no doctrine that stipulates that there is an individual who has a duty to direct or control a dangerous individual or protect the individual from danger. This principle is derived from the early common law which also continues to prevail today.
In the case of Faverty, the occurrence of the accident was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendants decision to allow Theurer to work for log hours. It also has to be noted that the employer had the duty to control the employee when he was off duty. This is because Theurer had informed his supervisor that he was fatigued and had even requested that he should not be included in the next shift or scheduling. The contentious issue, in this case, is the fact that at the time that Theurer was committing the tort, he was not using the property if the employer. However, there was a foreseeable consequence of letting the employee to commute since he was fatigued.
The employer should be protected since the employee volunteered to work. However, the employee had a duty to ensure that the employee could not be a danger to other people since, after the work, the employer know that the employee was tired. The employer was negligent in letting the employee drive home. Regarding the duty of the employer to ensure that Theurer did not work many hours, the employer had a duty to ensure the safety of the employee and of other especially after the employee left work.
In conclusion, the decision by the court not to uphold the appeal was affirmative. This is because the defendant had many instances of negligence on his part. Additionally, some of the other facts of the case include. Faverty was injured by the defendant employee, Matt Theurer, on April 5, 1988. Theurer was an 18-year-old employee of McDonalds, who fell asleep while driving home from work after working three shifts in a 24 hour period. Tort liability normally arises only from the personal faults of the individual however in some instances; the courts sometimes find other parties liable for other individuals wrong acts. The defendant is also liable if only the defendant has a duty, the defendant has a duty and has breached that duty and finally if the defendants breach results in the injury in question. From this perspective, the employer is liable for the employees tort in the instance that the employer acts negligently by causing the employee to commit the tort. In the case of Faverty, the occurrence of the accident was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendants decision to allow Theurer to work for log hours. It also has to be noted that the employer had the duty to control the employee when he was off duty. There was a foreseeable consequence of letting the employee to commute since he was fatigued. The employer was negligent in letting the employee drive home. Regarding the duty of the employer to ensure that Theurer did not work many hours, the employer had a duty to ensure the safety of the employee and of other especially after the employee left work.
Business practice plan
It is imperative to note that no employer should have a duty to prevent an employee who is fatigued from committing home since the employer heavily scheduled the staff member or due to the fact that the employer noticed that the staff member was fatigued and allowed the employee to leave early. This is because such a rule would be inconsistent with the nature of the employers duty to control the off duty employees, limited nature of the affirmative duties and the legal tenet of dram shop liability. For the defendant, the correct rule is that the employer has the duty to ensure that he prevents a fatigued employee from work only of the employee is considered as being obviously fatigued or incapacitated and if the employer subsequently assigns some task to the fatigued employee. It is up to the employer to determine whether the employee is fatigued regardless of whether the employee volunteers or not.
The other step that the organization can adopt is to determine whether the employee is fatigued before assigning the work or scheduling. This is vital because if an employee is assigned a task and he is fatigued, then that employee is not in a position to make a rational decision.
The key step that the defendant has to undertake is to ensure that they adhere to the recommendations and the guidelines that are issued by the respective regulatory bodies. This is because by following the professional procedures that are accepted as the proper practice in any organization, the defendant may well be able to avoid liability. The other step that the defendant could take is to ensure that they limit their liability to a specific sum. In order for the organization to meet the specified liability, they need to consider the available resources to meet such liability and the possibility of getting an insurance cover. The insurance should be limited to an amount that is reasonable based on the tort that may be committed.
The third step that the defendant cold undertake is a professional negligence insurance that is currently available. Normally it is the insured party that bears the risk up to a certain term and the remainder is covered by the insurer. Such policies often cover the liability to their customers under the contract and the non-clients in the tort.
The fourth step is to ensure that the supervisors of the organization are well versed with the policies of the company. In the case of McDonalds, the supervisors should have been well aware of the possible tort that could have been caused by their employee since the employee left work while tired. It is up to the organization to ensure that they come up with measures of transport to their employees especially after work. This would ensure that the employees have a little or no chance to commit torts while commuting to and from work. This also means that employees have to be taught about the policies of the organization and ensure that they are followed to the letter. This prevents the organization from being found liable if only the employees follow such rules. The organization may set up workshops and other training meetings that ensure that the employees learn about torts and how to prevent such cases from occurring in the future.
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