We all know that California Courts have a soft spot for employees. But recently, the California Court of Appeal in Moradi v. Marsh USA, Inc., — Cal.Rptr.3d —, 2013 WL 5203485 (Sept. 17, 2013), expanded the liability for employers across the State in a ridiculous fashion. Mrs. Bamberger was driving home from work in her personal vehicle when she decided that she needed some yogurt and exercise. She pulled into the yogurt shops parking lot and that’s when she stuck Moradi on a motorcycle. Previously, the “coming and going” rule would have demurred the employer out of the case, but not this time.
The Court held that driving was part of Mrs. Bamberger’s regular duties and therefore driving to and from work was within the scope of her employment under “respondeat superior” and the “required vehicle” exception to the “coming and going” rule. The question in this case was really whether stopping for yogurt and yoga was foreseeable to the employer, since the employee was required to drive as part of her job duties. The answer is yes. Employers should foresee that employees will make stops at the grocery store, coffee shop, gym and other places where errands can be handled.
Districts who require employees to drive as part of their work duties, especially their personal vehicles, should take extra steps to train those employee in defensive driving, accident reporting, and vehicle maintenance.