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Damages Responsibility of Principal

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Damages Responsibility of Principal and the related topic of personal injury. For more information on the topic of damages see the pages on Wikipedia.

Damages Responsibility of Principal-Statutes

See Va. Code § 26-5 indicating if any fiduciary or agent or attorney at law shall by his negligence or improper conduct lose any debt or other money he shall be charged with principal of what is lost and interest as if he had received such principal.

Damages Responsibility of Principal-Cases

2015 Egan v. Butler, 290 Va. 62, 772 S.E.2d 765.
To subject corporate employer to punitive damage liability the employee who committed the wrongful acts must be in a sufficiently high position in the corporate structure. The question of how high is dependent upon the power, role, and independence of the employee relative to the nature and structure of the employer.

2007 Hughes v. Doe, 273 Va. 45, 639 S.E.2d 302.
Damages responsibility of principal.In suit alleging that employer was liable for negligence of employee under respondeat superior theory, dismissal of claim against the employee with prejudice on procedural grounds does not amount to an affirmative finding of the employee’s lack of negligence and therefore the suit can proceed against the employer under the derivative liability principle. In this case, the employee had been dismissed on a statute of limitations defense.

2004 Southern Floors & Acoustics, Inc. v. Max-Yeboah, 267 Va. 682, 594 S.E.2d 908.
Issue was whether store was liable for negligence of independent contractor working on floors where plaintiff tripped over construction material laying on floor. Grocery store did not have duty to supervise work of contractor and did not have actual or constructive knowledge of condition causing plaintiff’s injury.

2001 Linhart v. Lawson, 261 Va. 30, 540 S.E.2d 875.
Damages responsibility of principal. Common-law principle that liability of principal and agent are coterminous is not applicable when altered by General Assembly, as in this case involving school bus accident where bus driver is liable only for acts of gross negligence but school board may be liable for acts of negligence of bus driver.

2000 Majorana v. Crown Cent. Petroleum Corp., 260 Va. 521, 539 S.E.2d 426.
Plaintiff sought to recover on negligent hiring theory in this assault case by employee against patron of store. Plaintiff failed to present evidence of what form of reasonable investigation employer should have undertaken. No evidence presented to show that reasonable investigation would have revealed propensity by employee to commit assaults. As such, there is no basis for negligent hiring instruction to jury.

1997 Schwartz v. Brownlee, 253 Va. 159, 482 S.E.2d 827.
At common law liabilities of principals and agents are coterminous. General Assembly may abrogate common law but intent must be plainly manifested. In this case, General Assembly intended to abrogate that common law principle by allowing non-health care provider to have liability greater than that of agent.

1988 J. v. Victory Tabernacle Baptist Church, 236 Va. 206, 372 S.E.2d 391.
Damages responsibility of principal. Minor plaintiff sexually assaulted by church employee. Employee had prior criminal record of sexual assaults against children. Plaintiff properly set forth claim for negligent hiring. This is different from a respondeat superior claim. There is no requirement that employee’s misconduct be within scope of employment.

1988 Roughton Pontiac Corp. v. Alston, 236 Va. 152, 372 S.E.2d 147.
Where master and servant sued together in tort and master’s liability is solely dependent on servant’s conduct, then verdict for servant exonerates master. Normally in such case, Supreme Court would remand for new trial but in this instance verdict for employee not appealed; therefore, must enter verdict for employer. This principle applied to both negligence and intentional tort cases.

1988 Spence v. Griffin, 236 Va. 21, 372 S.E.2d 595.
Damages responsibility of principal. Principal is bound by representations of his agent, made either in scope of his employment or in furtherance of object for which he is employed. In this case, principal liable for concealment by agent constituting fraud.

1987 Oberbroeckling v. Lyle, 234 Va. 373, 362 S.E.2d 682.
Damages responsibility of principal. Generally corporations may be liable for compensatory damages for defamatory statements which are uttered by agent while engaged in scope of his employment and which grow out of act connected with employment. In connection with qualifiedly privileged defamatory communication, corporations may be liable for compensatory and punitive damages if agent’s malicious conduct either was authorized by principal or subsequently ratified by it.

1987 House v. Kirby, 233 Va. 197, 355 S.E 2d 303.
Rule of non-liability for disclosed principal applies only with respect to contracts agent makes as agent for principal. It does not absolve him of liability for contracts agent makes personally outside of scope of agency relationship. See Richmond Union Passenger Ry. Co. v. New York & Sea Beach Ry. Co., 95 Va. 386. In this case, it was held that insurance agent could be liable for his failure to obtain insurance for client even though he was working for disclosed principal.

1985 Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Patterson, 229 Va. 627, 331 S.E.2d 490.
Damages responsibility of principal. Insurance agent alleged to have made false statements about coverage. Principal holds out his agent as competent and fit to be trusted and in effect warrants his fidelity and good conduct in all matters in scope of agency.

1979 Dudley v. Estate Life Ins. Co., 220 Va. 343, 257 S.E.2d 871.
Principal who puts agent in position that enables agent, while apparently acting within his authority to commit fraud, is subject to liability for this fraud.

1971 Mobley v. Pendleton, 212 Va. 418, 184 S.E.2d 798.
If verdict against master but silent as to servant, then it should be set aside.

1970 Rakes v. Fulcher, 210 Va. 542, 172 S.E.2d 751.
Damages responsibility of principal.Where liability of defendant is predicated on master-servant relationship, verdict in favor of servant requires verdict in favor of master.

1969 Whitfield v. Whittaker Mem. Hosp., 210 Va. 176, 169 S.E.2d 563.
When master and servant are sued together for same act of negligence, then master’s liability rests wholly on servant’s negligence.

1945 Monumental Motor Tours v. Eaton, 184 Va. 311, 35 S.E.2d 105.
Damages responsibility of principal. Where master and servant are sued together for same act of negligence and master’s liability, if any, rests solely on servant’s misfeasance or malfeasance, verdict that finds for servant and against master or is silent as to servant and finds against master should be set aside.

1944 Virginia State Fair Ass’n v. Burton, 182 Va. 365, 28 S.E.2d 716.
Where principal’s liability is contingent on agent’s liability, if agent is not liable, then neither is principal.

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Damages Responsibility of Principal

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