Employer Blamed For Exec’s Car Accident

A California appeals court has ruled that an employer may be liable for personal injuries stemming from an executive’s car crash. The crash occurred when the Executive was returning home from a business conference.

Marc Brandon, the vice president of anti-piracy Internet operations for Warner Brothers Entertainment, attended a three-day business conference in Sunnydale, CA. The event was sponsored by one of Warner’s anti-piracy vendors. Warner Brothers had approved the trip and paid for Brandon’s airfare, hotel and airport parking.

After the trip, Brandon drove home from the airport and was involved in an accident with another car. The wreck injured three pedestrians, one of whom later died from his injuries.

According to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, the executive’s attendance at an out-of-town conference may fall under a doctrine that holds an employer vicariously liable for accidents occurring while the employee is engaging in a “special errand” for the employer.

Warner argued that the doctrine did not apply to commercial travel, but the panel agreed with the plaintiff’s “special errand” reasoning. They felt that because Warner paid for the trip, a reasonable jury could therefore infer that Warner expected to gain some benefit from Brandon’s attendance at the conference.

Source: Andrews Publications-“Employer May Be Liable for Exec’s Car Crash”- September 28, 2009.

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