Legal Memorandum: Liability for Negligent Supervision in MO

Issue: Whether a company can be held liable for its own failure to monitor and enforce policies as well as for the negligent acts of an authorized dealer or agent of the company under Missouri law.

Area of Law: Corporate & Securities, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Negligent supervision; Proximate cause
Jurisdiction: Missouri
Cited Cases: 595 So. 2d 82; 46 N.W.2d 233; 194 A.2d 788; 957 S.W.2d 472; 245 P.2d 9; 148 S.W.2d 548; 728 S.W.2d 574; 700 S.W.2d 426; 4 S.W.3d 622; 485 S.W.2d 481; 193 S.E.2d 46
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2000

Under Missouri law, the plaintiff seeking to hold a defendant liable in negligence must prove

(1) [a] legal duty on the part of the defendant to conform to a certain standard of conduct to protect others against unreasonable risks; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) a proximate cause between the conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) actual damages to the claimant’s person or property.

Hoover’s Dairy, Inc. v. Mid-America Dairymen, Inc./Special Products, Inc., 700 S.W.2d 426, 431 (Mo. 1985) (en banc).  The scope of the defendant’s duty is said to be measured by whether a reasonably prudent person would have anticipated the existence of a danger and would have taken measures to prevent injury.  Id. at 431.  If some injury was foreseeable under the circumstances, the court asks what the defendant knew or should have known, unless the defendant’s duty arose out of the special relationship between the parties.  Id. at 431-32.  For instance, when one undertakes to render services to another, that person is subject to liability for injury resulting from failure to exercise reasonable care, apart from the defendant’s actual or constructive knowledge.  Id. at 433.

A defendant also may face direct liability in negligence for negligent supervision.  G.E.T. v. Barron, 4 S.W.3d 622, 624 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 1999).  In a negligent supervision action, the plaintiff must prove that a reasonable person could have foreseen that injuries of the type suffered by the plaintiff might […]

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