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Sedam v. 2JR Pizza Enterprises, LLC

Supreme Court of Indiana

October 31, 2017

Dale Sedam, Kim Sedam, and Bryan Norris, as co-personal representatives of the Estate of David C. Hamblin, deceased, Appellants (Plaintiffs below),
v.
2JR Pizza Enterprises, LLC doing business as Pizza Hut #013413, Amanda Parker, individually and as an employee of 2JR Pizza Enterprises, LLC, and Ralph Bliton, Appellees (Defendants below).

          Appeal from the Jefferson Circuit Court, No. 39C01-1209-CT-890 The Honorable Darrell M. Auxier, Judge

         On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 39A05-1602-CT-296

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Scott A. Faultless Craig Kelley & Faultless LLC Indianapolis, Indiana Merritt K. Alcorn Alcorn Sage Schwartz & Magrath, LLP Madison, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE INDIANA TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION George C. Gray Nicole B. Burks Gray, Robinson, Ryan & Fox, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Rodney L. Scott Tricia Kirkby Hofmann Rebecca L. Didat Waters, Tyler, Hofmann & Scott, LLC New Albany, Indiana Karl L. Mulvaney Jessica Whelan Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE DEFENSE TRIAL COUNSEL OF INDIANA Lucy R. Dollens Quarles & Brady, LLP Indianapolis, Indiana Crystal G. Rowe Kightlinger & Gray, LLP New Albany, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE INDIANA LEGAL FOUNDATION INC. Julia Blackwell Gelinas Maggie L. Smith Frost Brown Todd LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

          Massa, Justice.

         More than forty years ago, our Court of Appeals decided Tindall v. Enderle, 162 Ind.App. 524, 320 N.E.2d 764 (1974), and today we reaffirm its holding. When an employer admits that an employee was acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, the employer may only be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, and thus the plaintiff is precluded from also bringing a negligent hiring claim in most circumstances. We therefore affirm the trial court's partial grant of summary judgment for Pizza Hut, allowing only the negligence claim under the doctrine of respondeat superior to proceed.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On August 24, 2012, Amanda Parker was delivering pizzas as a driver for 2JR Pizza Enterprises, LLC ("Pizza Hut"). While she was driving, her Dodge Stratus collided with the back of a scooter operated by David Hamblin. As a result, Hamblin was tossed onto the road and was run over and killed by another motorist, Ralph Bliton.

         Hamblin's Estate[1] then filed a wrongful death suit against Parker, Bliton, and Pizza Hut. The Estate alleged Hamblin's death was directly and proximately caused by Pizza Hut's negligent hiring, training, and/or supervision of Parker; Parker's negligent operation of her car; and that Pizza Hut was liable for Parker's negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Pizza Hut moved for partial summary judgment, claiming that since it admitted Parker was acting within the course and scope of her employment, it could only be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. The trial court agreed and granted partial summary judgment dismissing the Estate's negligent hiring, training, and/or supervision claim. Pursuant to Trial Rule 54(B), the trial court entered final judgment, and the Estate appealed.

         The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. After comparing Broadstreet v. Hall, 168 Ind. 192, 80 N.E. 145 (1907), and Tindall v. Enderle, 162 Ind.App. 524, 320 N.E.2d 764 (1974), the panel found Tindall had improperly distinguished Broadstreet, and thus Broadstreet was controlling. Sedam v. 2JR Pizza Enterprises, LLC, 61 N.E.3d 1191, 1195-98 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). Therefore, the court concluded that the Estate could pursue both theories of recovery because the claims are "separate torts that are not derivative of the employee's negligence[.]" Id. at 1196. Moreover, the panel reasoned this outcome was more consistent with Indiana's Comparative Fault Act, enacted after Broadstreet and Tindall, and the Restatement (Third) of Agency. Id. at 1197-98.

         Pizza Hut petitioned for transfer, which we granted, thereby vacating the Court of Appeals ...


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