Vicarious Liabilty Not Extended to Accidental Shooting of Son’s Friend

A seventeen year old was accidentally shot by his friend while visiting the friend’s home.  The handgun belonged to the friend’s father, who normally kept the gun in his work truck.  The work truck was used in connection with the family businesses.  Plaintiffs filed suit and alleged that the handgun at issue was a “business tool” used for protection when the father travelled to and from job sites.  As a result, plaintiffs contended that the businesses were vicariously liable for the shooting.  The district court disagreed, and granted defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, dismissing the claims against the companies.

On appeal, plaintiffs alleged that even though the shooting occurred inside the home and not in the work truck, defendants’ liability nonetheless extended to inside the premises because the father regularly conducted business activities for the companies there.  Plaintiffs further argued that the father acted in the course and scope of his employment when he removed the loaded gun from his work truck and negligently left it in an unsafe place, where it was accessible to minors.

The father testified that he always carried a gun with him for personal protection, even on personal vacations.  He further stated that the gun belonged to him individually, and not the business.  He also denied having a home office, testifying that “sometimes” he would review business-related paperwork after his family went to bed.

In rejecting plaintiffs’ arguments, the Louisiana First Circuit held that the facts and circumstances did not warrant a conclusion that the negligent storage of the handgun in the residence was imputable to the gun owner’s employer.  The accident did not occur withing normal working hours, nor did it occur on business property.  The court concluded that because the handgun was personally owned by the father and because it was kept in the father’s personal residence for several days, any negligence in the handgun’s storage was likewise personal to the father only.

Drummond v. Fakouri,  — So. 3d —-, 2009 WL 4980378 (La. App. 1 Cir. 12/23/09).