Legal Memorandum: Duty of Reasonable Care in VT

Issue: Under Vermont law, does a company have a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect a patron from foreseeable risk of abuse perpetrated by an employee?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Reasonable care; Company's duty
Jurisdiction: Vermont
Cited Cases: 811 A.2d 655; 265 A.2d 441; 987 A.2d 960; 509 F.3d 69
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) Torts §§ 314A and 320; Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213; Third Restatement § 7.05(1)
Date: 02/01/2012

Although it is sometimes said generally that the law does not impose upon a person a duty to protect another from a third person, exceptions are recognized where there is a “special relationship” between defendant and the wrongdoer or the defendant and the victim.  Knight v. Rower, 742 A.2d at 1242 (referring to Restatement (Second) Torts §§ 314A and 320 regarding the duty to control the conduct of third persons when certain special relationships exist).  

One type of special relationship recognized in Vermont is one that exists between an employer and its employee.  Vermont imposes direct liability for the negligent supervision of an employee or agent based on Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213.*FN1  See Turner v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, 186 Vt. 396, 425 n. 10, 987 A.2d 960, 981 n.10 (citing Brueckner v. Norwich Univ., 169 Vt. 118, 126 730 A.2d 1086, 1092 (1999)).  This Restatement section provides:

A person conducting an activity through servants or other agents is subject to liability for harm resulting from his conduct if he is negligent or reckless:


(a)  in giving improper or ambiguous orders or in failing to make proper regulations; or


. . . .


(c) in the supervision of the activity…. 

Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213 (emphasis added).

In Brueckner the court recognized that this duty to reasonably supervise employees includes […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)