Employer Not Liable for Negligent Retention of Violent Security Guard

A federal district court ruled that an employer was not liable for negligent retention regarding the employment of a security guard who committed an assault.

Todd Kohen was assaulted by Floyd Baxter, a security guard employed by Ford Motor Co. Kohen sued Ford, alleging negligent retention, premises liability and respondeat superior.

The employer admitted that Baxter was acting within the course and scope of his agency at the time of the assault. The employer claimed that since it admitted it had an agency relationship with Baxter, its liability for any negligence committed by him had already been established. Therefore, the employer claimed that Kohen could not continue with his negligent retention claim. It filed a motion to dismiss that claim.

The court agreed with the employer, dismissing the negligent retention claim. Once an employer has admitted respondeat superior, or an agency relationship, it is improper to allow an injured party to proceed on another theory that would impute liability to the employer based on the employee's actions.

Employers are generally only liable for the wrongful actions of their employees that occur in the course and scope of their employment. This case illustrates that some types of negligence claims cannot be brought against an employer for the actions of an employee once it is proven that the employee is acting within the course and scope of his employment.

Source: Security Law Newsletter, 01/01/2006 © 2006 by Strafford Publications, Inc.