Painter v. Amerimex Drilling I, Ltd., W. L. 2749862; LEXIS 310 (2018)
Summary Judgment Favoring Employer Reversed On Issue of Employer’s Potential Vicarious Liability for Employee Driller/Driver’s Actions: The court considered whether employer Amerimex could be held vicariously liable for the actions of its employee, a driller who as part of his job duties was expected to transport fellow workers off-site to their bunkhouse. Amerimex argued that because it did not control his choice of route or other details, it could not be held liable for damages resulting from an accident that occurred. Held: The Court analyzed the two requirements of holding employee status and acting within the course and scope of employment, clarifying that right-to-control flows from the first requirement as an inherent part of the employer-employee relationship and that courts of appeals that have made the control issue “almost as a separate element” or part of the course-and-scope analysis were incorrect. The majority also rejected the dissent’s focus on a task-based analysis of control, clarifying that once the first requirement of employee status is met, the employer’s right to control the employee’s work obviates the need for a task-based analysis of whether the employer did exercise control in a specific circumstance. Note: The court did note the appropriate use of a task-based analysis when determining whether a general contractor has supervisory-liability over specific actions of an independent contractor. The court therefore reversed the grant of summary judgment for Amerimex and remanded.
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