Ronnie, a salaried driver for the Acme Corporation, was unloading goods at a customer’s loading dock. Ronnie and the customer began to argue about whose duty it was to move the goods into the store. Ronnie shoved the customer. The customer fell and was injured. The customer is suing Acme for compensation for his injuries. Acme employs you to represent the corporation in the upcoming negotiations or litigation.
The case is filed within the jurisdiction of the state courts of Louisiana.
There is no right or wrong way to begin your research.
In the past, researchers had no choice but to conduct legal research in print resources. The last few years have witnessed the introduction and tremendous growth of a powerful alternative, online legal research.
Neither is the “better” method. One might work better than the other in this situation. You won’t know until you get started.
In all likelihood, you will move back and forth between print and online resources during the research process.
When confronted with an unfamiliar area of the law, many researchers find it easier to use print resources (such as legal encyclopedias, restatements, and practice guides) to get an overview, set parameters, learn the terms of art and black-letter law.
Book materials have a satisfying way of organizing and limiting research. They naturally set boundaries within the law that the seemingly endless and seamless materials of online legal materials cannot provide.
Book materials can impart a sense of orientation, the feeling that you have found what you need to get started.
One exception to the generalization that print resources are often the best place to start research is when the case is dependent on a particular detail.
If the case rests on the fact that the vehicle involved was a farm tractor, standard print indexes and table of contents will not be organized around farm tractor cases. A full text online search for farm tractors and injuries may retrieve cases that can be the starting point for research.
The Table of Contents of Torts in the Nutshell Series has a section titled, Employers, Employees and Contractors.
This section introduces and defines the following terms:
Scope of employment or course of employment
Employers, Employees and Contractors
Vicarious liability is a form of strict liability by which A is held liable to another for the tort of B for no reason other than that there exists some relationship between A and B and B was acting within the scope of that relationship when he committed the tort. The overwhelming number of vicarious liability cases arise from the employer-employee relationship. … (S)cope (or sometimes “course” or “scope and course”) of his employment … is a question of fact which considers the employee’s job description or assigned duties, the time, place, and purpose of employee’s act, the similarity of his conduct to the things he was hired or authorized to do or which are commonly done by such employees, and the foreseeability of his act.
Torts in the Nutshell Series discusses the general black letter law that applies to the vicarious liability of employers for the acts of their employees.
Once it is determined that the tortfeasor was an employee at the time he committed the tort, his employer is vicariously liable if his conduct is within the scope of his employment.
Torts, in the Black Letter Series, describes the liability of an employer for the intentional torts of employees:
An employer is vicariously liable for his employee’s intentional torts committed in the scope of his employment and in furtherance of his employer’s business, at least if the employee’s act was foreseeable.
Black letter statements of the law from Torts in the Black Letter Series