Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States – Case Brief
Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States, 398 F.2d 167 (2d Cir. 1968).
Facts: Lane was a seaman for the United States Coast Guard (D). One evening after returning drunk to his ship after leave, Lane opened a valve controlling the flooding of the dry dock tanks. As a result, both his ship and part of the dry dock sank into the water. The owner of the dry dock, Ira S. Bushey & Sons (P) sued D for damages and the court entered judgment for P.
D appealed, claiming that it was not liable because Lane’s acts were not within the scope of his employment. D relied on section 228 (1) of the Restatement of Agency 2d, which stated that conduct of a servant is within the scope of employment if but only if it is actuated at least in part by a purpose to serve the master. However, the district judge denied D’s appeal, claiming that the doctrine of liability should be expanded to serve the larger purposes respondeat superior is supposed to serve. D appealed.
Issue: If an employee does an act which is reasonably foreseeable and within the scope of his employment but which is not motivated by serving the interests of his employer, is the employer protected from liability?
Holding and Rule: No. An employer is still vicariously liable for an employee’s negligent acts even if an employee’s conduct is not motivated by serving the interests of his employer, if the employee’s conduct was reasonably foreseeable and within the scope of his employment. The court held that sailors get drunk while on leave and the risk was certainly foreseeable, and if anyone should bear the liability it should be D.
Disposition: Affirmed – judgment for D.