Nicholas Trabulsy, a customer at an Orlando Florida Publix Super Market, was badly hurt by a Publix employee, Almonzo Blanton, who allegedly had begun restocking groceries he presumed were abandoned in the customer’s unattended grocery cart. The attack transpired in the store
Mr. Trabulsy sued Publix as battery, and an Orlando trial judge dismissed his case, ruling that the employee acted “outside the scope of his employment,” in part because Mr. Blanton’s behavior constituted an intentional act. In other words, beating the customer was no accident, but rather something that Mr. Blanton intended to do.
Mr. Trabulsy filed an appeal to Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal, which reversed the dismissal and outlined the current law in Florida for holding an employer responsible for the intentional misconduct of an employee.
FLORIDA’S SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT LAW
In Florida, an employer is responsible when its employees harm someone only when the act occurs “within the real or apparent scope” of their employment. Therefore, for Publix to be off the hook for the attack, it would have had to prove conclusively that the attack was not in the course and scope of its employee’s job.
Generally, a Florida employee’s actions are considered to be performed within the scope of his or her job when those actions happen during working hours and at the place of employment. In interpreting the scope of employment law, Courts are required to focus more on the purpose of the action than on the method of the employee in the action. In simple terms, is the action undertaken to help the employer or the employee?
There are a number of bizarre examples in Florida of strange acts by employees that have been determined to fall within the course and scope of employment, including a case where a maitre d’ hit a patron in the head with an ashtray when she refused to pay the bill.
PUBLIX’S POLICY AND PROCEDURE–NOT ENOUGH
Finally, the 5th District Court pointed out that Publix’s policy and procedure of prohibiting its employees from beating up its customers does not conclusively mean that this attack was done outside the course and scope of the employee’s employment because by re-shelving the goods, the employee was actually doing work that benefited Publix.
HOW THIS LAW HELPS THE INJURED
This opinion is a spectacular result for anyone who is injured by an overly aggressive employee at any Florida business or onboard a cruise ship. For more nearly 25 years as an accident lawyer in Miami, I have seen these situations come up, most commonly when patrons have been beaten up by overly aggressive and hostile nightclub bouncers–security guards. This is especially true on passenger cruise ships, where security personnel are not necessarily licensed or properly trained in how to handle situations without resorting to the use of force.
If you have been injured at a Florida place of business by a hostile employee, call an experienced personal injury attorney today. This is especially important if your incident happened aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship or any other passenger vessel, as most cruise companies require that lawsuits be filed within one year of the date of the incident, and most of them–including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian–require that the lawsuits be filed here in the Southern District of Florida, at Miami’s Federal Court.
Our Carnival cruise ship accident lawyers provide experienced and passionate representation to injured passengers, including a free initial consultation. Call us today toll free at 1-866-597-4529 or email us.