Colo. Supreme Court Decides Negligent Hiring Case

March 3, 2006

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) has joined other industry members in an amicus brief to Colorado’s Supreme Court arguing that an employer is not liable under the tort of negligent hiring for injuries plaintiffs sustain in an automobile accident with an employee’s commute from work. 118 NAMIC member companies write 49 percent of the homeowners insurance and 39 percent of the automobile insurance in Colorado.

“NAMIC participated in filing the brief because insurance carriers would have been adversely impacted from an underwriting and claims standpoint with any legal decision increasing liability exposure for employers,” stated NAMIC’s western region state affairs manager Christian John Rataj.

On Feb. 21, the state Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals decision in Raleigh v. Performance Plumbing, dismissing the negligent hiring claims against the defendant. Members of the Raleigh family sued Performance for damages after they were involved in an accident with a company employee.

According to the Supreme Court, the accident occurred after the employee had finished his workday and the scope of negligent hiring did not extend to the plaintiff because the job for which it hired the employee did not include driving to and from work.

“The Performance Plumbing holding is important to the insurance industry, because it should discourage plaintiff attorneys from trying to assert negligent hiring claims against employers in cases where there is no factual nexus between the employee’s negligence and the scope of the employee’s professional responsibilities to the employer,” said Rataj.

“Case law has regularly held that an employer is not typically liable for an employee’s negligence that occurs during an employee’s commute, so it’s logical and reasonable for the Court to hold that there is no liability for negligent hiring under the same circumstance.”

The court’s holding has not been published at this time.

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