§15.29 Vicarious Liability After Comparative Fault
The Case : Browder v. Morris, 975 S.W.2d 308 (Tenn. 1998).
The Basic Facts: Browder was in a car accident with Morris and sought to impose vicarious liability on Morris' employer.
The Bottom Line :
- "We agree with the plaintiffs that vicarious liability, FN4 or imputed negligence, FN5 continues to be viable after the adoption of comparative fault. One who is vicariously liable is held to be financially responsible for the tortious actions of another, even though the vicariously liable party was not negligent. See [Prosser and Keeton on Torts], § 69 (5th ed.1984). The adoption of comparative fault did not change this principle. Vicarious liability still applies, for example, where liability attaches under the family purpose doctrine, respondeat superior, or similar circumstance where liability is vicarious due to an agency-type relationship between the active, or actual, wrongdoer and the one who is vicariously responsible. Camper v. Minor, 915 S.W.2d 437, 447-48 (Tenn.1996).
FN4 Vicarious liability is defined as the 'imposition of liability on one person for the actionable conduct of another, based solely on a relationship between the two persons. Indirect or imputed legal responsibility for acts of another; for example, the liability of an employer for the acts of an employee, or a principal for torts and contracts of an agent.' ]Black's Law Dictionary 1566 (6th ed. 1990)].975 S.W.2d at 311-12.
FN5 Imputed negligence refers to the same concept as vicarious liability. 'The negligence of one person may be chargeable to another depending upon the relationship of the parties, as for example, the negligence of an agent acting within the scope of his employment is chargeable to the principal. Negligence which is not directly attributable to the person himself, but which is the negligence of a person who is in privity with him, and with whose fault he is chargeable.' [Black's Law Dictionary 758 (6th ed. 1990)]. See also [Prosser and Keeton on Torts], § 69, 499 (5th ed. 1984) ('Imputed negligence means that, by reason of some relation existing between A and B, the negligence of A is to be charged against B, although B played no part in it, has done nothing whatever to aid or encourage it, or indeed has done all that he possibly can to prevent it.')."
Other Sources of Note : Ali v. Fisher, 145 S.W.3d 557, 564 (Tenn. 2005) (negligent entrustment of a vehicle does not give rise to vicarious liability against the entrustor for the acts of the entrustee).
Recent Cases: Mathes v. DRD Knoxville Medical Clinic, No. E2010-01809- COA-R3-CV, 2011 WL 1402879 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2011) (dismissing claims of joint and several liability after finding no agency or joint venture).