When an employee causes injury to someone else in the course and scope of employment, their employer can be held vicariously liable for those injuries. The legal doctrine is called respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “Let the master answer.”
Of course, an employer could also be found directly liable as well for things like negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision or negligent security. But respondeat superior does not require a finding that the business was negligent. As long as the negligent employee was acting in furtherance of the business at the time the incident occurred, the business may be liable.
This is what is alleged in a Florida personal injury lawsuit recently filed against Apple Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case is filed federally because, while the injury occurred in South Florida, the company is headquartered in California.
According to court documents, plaintiff was injured after being struck with a dangerous metal wall fixture at one of the store’s brick-and-mortar sites in Wellington.
Plaintiff went to the store for an appointment she made to have her iPhone repaired. Employee in question took a phone case from off the wall with the intention of replacing plaintiff’s case. However as he did so, he dropped a sharp metal wall fixture onto the plaintiff’s left arm.
Plaintiff alleges her personal injuries were solely caused by the negligence of the employee, absent any contributory negligence on her part. (F.S. 768.81 does not prohibit claims that involve contributory negligence, or a share of fault by plaintiff, but in cases where contributory negligence is found, it could significantly reduce the damages to which plaintiff is entitled).
In addition to alleging vicarious liability on the basis of respondeat superior, plaintiff is also alleging premises liability. Specifically, she alleges the company was liable in negligent failure to inspect, maintain, manage and/ or repair the wall displays on site, thus allowing an unsafe condition to persist on the site – an unsafe condition about which employees knew or should have known.
Although the extent and details of her injury aren’t extensive, her complaint does indicate she expects them to be permanently disabled to some degree. Her complaint did not detail a specific dollar amount she was seeking for damages.
This isn’t the first time Apple has been accused of maintaining an unsafe condition on site. Back in 2012, the store was sued for an unsafe condition on site after she walked into a glass door at one location and broke her nose. Of course, Apple is known for its modern, sleek designs and glass architecture, but the woman asserted she was unable to see the glass door before she walked into it. Plaintiff, an elderly woman, alleged the store failed to account for older patrons and those with poor vision in their architectural designs. The store should have had some type of marker or warning strips on the glass to alert patrons to the “invisible” door.
It’s important to point out that when a business invites the public in, they must account for reasonably foreseeable hazards to all customers.
So in cases where patrons are injured on site at a business location – whether by an employee or due to a dangerous condition on the property – it’s important to consult an experienced injury lawyer to explore your legal options.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Florida Resident Sues Apple for Sustaining an Injury while in the Apple Wellington Green Store, Sept. 28, 2017, By Jack Purcher, PatentlyApple.com
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