Employer MSJ Affirmed in Louisiana Crash Involving Off-Duty Employee

April 10, 2018

A company is off the hook in a crash involving one of its employees, according to a recent ruling by a Louisiana Court of Appeals.

According to court records, the case stems from a February 2015 crash in Louisiana where plaintiffs, Rebecca and Mark Richey, and their kids were traveling in a car when they collided with a car driven by Cisco Systems, Inc., employee, Jason Miller. The crash caused the Richey vehicle to roll over onto its driver’s side and injuries were sustained by the family. A lawsuit was filed against Miller, his employer and their insurers. Millers employer filed an answer, denying vicarious liability. In June 2016, Cisco filed a motion for summary judgment to support its claim that Miller wasn’t acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time of accident.

Through depositions, it was determined that at the time of the accident Miller was on his way home from practicing football with his son. Though he had a company cell phone with him at the time of the accident, it was determined through phone records, that he was not working at the time of accident. He also indicated he did not have a personal cell phone. The court also examined emails and found that had not responded to any emails shortly before or after the accident.

The court affirmed a prior motion for summary judgment on behalf of Cisco Systems, finding that “the injury-producing activity was Mr. Miller’s travel from his purely personal activity of practicing football with his son. And while Mr. Miller admitted and the record shows that Mr. Miller did perform work for Cisco on the date of the accident, there is nothing in the evidence presented that shows that Mr. Miller performed any work that benefited Cisco at the time of the accident or even after. The last act performed by Mr. Miller that could be construed as attenuating to Cisco’ s business was the email he sent at 2: 34 p.m., which was while he was still at home and not at the time of the accident.”

The case is Rebecca Richey and Mark Richey, Individually and on Behalf of their Minor Children Jewel Richey and Cameron Richey v. Jason P. Miller, Cisco Systems, Inc., Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and ABC Insurance Company. Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, 2017 CA 0462

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