The term “vicarious liability” means that one party is being held liable for the tort of another based on the special relationship between the defendant and the tortfeasor (e.g., employer-employee).

Reference Desk

California Jury Instruction No. 3700

“One may authorize another to act on his or her behalf in transactions with third persons.  This relationship is called ‘agency.’  The person giving the authority is called the ‘principal’; the person to whom the authority is given is called the ‘agent.'”

“An employer/a principal is responisble for harm caused by the wrongful conduct of his employees/agents while acting within the scope of their employment/authority.”

“An employee/agent is always responsbile for harm caused by his own wrongful conduct, whether or not the employer/principal is also liable.”

Perez v. Van Groningen & Sons, Inc., 41 Cal. 3d 962, 967 (1986):

“Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is vicariously liable for his employee’s torts committed within the scope of the employment.  This doctrine is based on a rule of policy, a deliberate allocation of a risk.  The losses cased by the torts of employees, which as a practical matter are sure to occur in the conduct of the employer’s enterprise, are placed upon that enterprise itself, as a required cost of doing business.”

Hilts v. County of Solano, 265 Cal. App. 2d 161, 176 (1968):

“Where the liability of an employer in torts rests solely on the doctrine of respondeat superior, a judgment on the merits in favor of the employee is a bar to an action against the employer.”

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