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Court says Home Depot may be liable in murder case

If a Louisiana employee is injured by a coworker the employer may be liable even if the incident occurs away from the workplace. On April 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit found that Home Depot could be held liable after one of its employees murdered another one offsite.

The murdered employee was the subordinate of the murderer. According to the court, despite knowing that the supervisor had a history of harassment, the company permitted him to continue supervising female employees. Through its ruling, the court overturned a lower court's dismissal of the case and remanded the case for trial. The lower court had decided that Home Depot could not have predicted verbal abuse and harassment would lead to murder.

Home Depot also did not follow up to find out if the supervisor attended anger management classes that the company had required of him, and the man used his supervisory power to force the woman to accompany him on a trip that ended in her murder. The man was convicted of third-degree sexual assault and first-degree intentional homicide and sentenced in 2014 to two life terms without parole.

People who have lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party's negligence may want to file a wrongful death suit. As this case demonstrates, a civil wrongful death suit may go forward after a criminal trial. Furthermore, because the burden of proof in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case, a civil suit may be successful even if no conviction is obtained. Families of loved ones who are victims of crimes committed by coworkers or supervisors may want to speak with an attorney to see if vicarious liability will apply and render the employer financially responsible.

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