Plaintiff was injured in an auto accident involving a Department of Public Safety officer. The officer lived in Phoenix, but at the time of the accident was temporarily assigned to the Douglas area where he had been staying in a local motel. The officer was driving to a restaurant when the accident occurred.
Plaintiff filed suit against the officer and other defendants. The trial court granted the officer’s motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the one-year statute of limitations, A.R.S. § 12-821, for actions against state employees. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that summary judgment was precluded by a material factual dispute over whether the officer was within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident.
The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed. An employee is within the course and scope of his employment for purposes of respondeat superior liability if the employee’s conduct (1) is of the kind he is employed to perform, (2) occurs substantially within the authorized time and space limits, and (3) is actuated, at least in part, by a purpose to serve the employer. Relying on cases from other jurisdictions, the Court held that, because a multiple-day, out-of-town assignment requires an employee to eat away from home, an employee on out-of-town travel status for his employer is within the course and scope of employment while traveling to and from a restaurant for a regular meal.
Judge Kelly authored the opinion; Judges Howard and Espinosa concurred.
Posted by: Mark P. Hummels