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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Vicarious Liability And Murder: A Case Study


Most personal injury lawyers don’t handle murder cases. However, when we do, we rarely sue the murderer themselves, but some other party who contributed negligence. Murderers tend not to be rich men, so suing them is often futile. Nonetheless, when an employer contributes liability to a murder, they can be held liable.

The reason why this topic is interesting is that a recent lawsuit has been filed against an apartment complex involving allegations of negligent security, and vicarious liability. One of the employees murdered a 19-year-old college student who was living in the apartment complex. Her family has since filed a lawsuit. Can the apartment complex as the alleged murderer’s employer be held liable? Below, we’ll discuss the answer.

Murder and vicarious liability: A case study 

The case mentioned above is still pending. However, in 2017, a similar case involving employee-on-employee violence went to appeals after Home Depot successfully got the case dismissed. The plaintiffs fought the decision.

In this case, a supervisor murdered a pregnant employee at an off-site event. The lawsuit held that the employer allowed the murderer to have power over female employees even after several reports of untoward conduct. Home Depot was held liable for placing the employee in harm’s way. In this case, Home Depot was forced to face the lawsuit for failing to monitor its managers.

Vicarious liability, murder, and wrongful death 

Employers need to be careful because the law right now places opposing pressures on businesses. For one, businesses get benefits from hiring former prisoners. For another, if the former prisoner does something that injures another party, then they can be held liable under the law, because, under the law, they knew that something like that could happen. Is this fair? Probably not. Does it harm prisoners who are trying to rebuild their lives? It surely does. Does it make sense for employers to be held liable when they place customers in harm’s way? It absolutely does.

A determination will need to be made in the case involving the college student as to whether or not the employee was within the scope of his duties. In this case, the murder or kidnapping likely occurred on-premises. The maintenance worker had access to the girl only because of his job. His employer gave him access to the girl. While employers cannot be held liable for every egregious act of their employees, in this case, it did occur because of the context of his work. The plaintiffs can argue that the defendants did not put up enough security cameras or otherwise deter the employee from committing the murder.

Liability should thus fall on the apartment complex for the girl’s murder.

Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Matassini Law Firm represent plaintiffs in lawsuits against negligent defendants. Call today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your injuries in more detail.


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