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Legal Memorandum: Liability Based on Respondeat Superior

Issue: May liability based on respondeat superior be pursued in a civil action in Louisiana absent an employer-employee relationship?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Respondeat superior; No vicarious liablity; Lack of evidence
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 750 So. 2d 194; 855 So. 2d 930; 721 So. 2d 868; 874 So. 2d 863; 864 So. 2d 632; 124 So. 2d 227; 734 So. 2d 874
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 10/01/2009

It is well settled that absent an employer-employee (or similar such principal-agent) relationship, there can be no liability based on respondeat superior.  There is no basis for holding one person vicariously liable for the actions of another.  See Pender v. Elmore, 855 So. 2d 930 (La. App. 2 Cir. 9/24/03) (affirming dismissal of the defendants because there was no evidence of an employment relationship between them and the plaintiff), writ denied, 03-2968 (La. 1/16/04); 864 So. 2d 632; Thompson v. Nat’l Sur. Corp., 124 So. 2d 227 (same).  See also Russell v. Noullet, 98-0816 (La. 12/1/98); 721 So. 2d 868 (holding that the city was not liable for the police officer’s conduct where the officer was acting outside the course and scope of his employment); Smith v. Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Dep’t, 03-517, pp. 4-5 (La. App. 3 Cir. 4/21/04); 874 So. 2d 863, 866-67 (holding that the parish sheriff’s department was not vicariously liable for the deputy sheriff’s actions that were not in the course and scope of his employment and “were purely personal and totally unrelated to his employment”); Wright v. Skate Country, Inc., 98-0217 (La. App. 4 Cir. 5/12/99); 734 So. 2d 874 (holding that the city was not vicariously liable for the negligence of the off-duty police officer working for skating rink), writ denied, 99-2272 (La. 11/5/99); 750 So. 2d 194.

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