In a recent case in front of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court refused to hold an employer liable for an employee’s criminal actions that took place while the employee was off duty. This was the court’s refusal to expand the Maryland state-law doctrine of “respondeat superior.”
The Facts of the Case
Several years ago, approximately 30 homes were allegedly set on fire by an employee of the Social Security Administration. The homeowners grouped together and decided to sue the Social Security Administration for their losses, arguing that the Administration, as the employer of the person who allegedly committed the acts, was at least in part liable for their losses. Since the named defendant was a federal entity, the case was filed in federal court.
The evidence submitted suggested that all the criminal acts took place while the employee was off duty. However, there was some suggestion that some of the planning for the crimes took place while the man was at work for the Social Security Administration.