Fort Wayne Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer and Attorney Blog

COA Reverses Summary Judgment Under Theory of Respondeat Superior

By Jack H. FarnbauchJanuary 22, 2021

A Carmel assisted living facility resident was seriously injured when a buffet table fell, knocking her to the ground, which prompted a negligence suit to be filed by resident Mary Hogan, who claimed an employee “negligently caused the buffet table to fall onto her walker”. Before the litigation, Mary Hogan died and the suit was carried forth by her daughter and personal representative of her estate, Sandra Hogan. 

The assisted living facility, Crown Point of Carmel, moved for summary judgment in February 2020, arguing it could not be held liable on a theory of respondent superior and Special Judge Todd Ruetz granted the facility summary judgment. However, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded Hogan’s case. Judge Margaret Robb wrote for the COA panel, “The crux of the dispute between the parties is whether the dismissal of (Jackie) Young, the alleged negligent Magnolia employee, as a defendant extinguishes Magnolia’s liability under the theory of respondent superior. We conclude it does not.”

“Young’s dismissal as a defendant does not extinguish Magnolia’s potential liability arising from Young’s conduct,” Robb wrote. “Magnolia admits Young was acting within the scope of her employment at the time of the incident and therefore, if the trier of fact determines that Young acted negligently, her negligence will be imputed to Magnolia, and a judgment will be entered accordingly. Because Magnolia was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law and genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Young was negligent, the trial court improperly granted summary judgment in favor of Magnolia.”

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