This Just In From California: Poisoning A Co-Worker Is Not Within Your Job Description

Theresa and Sara were medical assistants in a California Kaiser health facility.  They argued over how the rooms should be stocked and over some misplaced lab slips.  Theresa bided her time for a few weeks and then struck: she slipped carbolic acid into Sara’s water bottle.  Sara drank it and got pretty sick.

Sara sued Theresa.  No surprise there.  But she also sued Nursefinders, the staffing agency that placed Theresa with Kaiser.  Sara’s theory was that Nursefinders was liable as Theresa’s initial employer, or for not training her properly, or both.

The trial court granted summary judgment to Nursefinders, and Sara appealed.  The California Court of Appeals, in Montague v. AMN, No. D063385, affirmed the judgment in favor of Nursefinders.  The court reasoned that in purposely poisoning Sara, Theresa was—you’d better sit down for this—acting outside the scope of her employment and doing something that Nursefinders couldn’t be expected to foresee.

Like I said, it’s California.

Today’s post was contributed by Norman G. Tabler, Jr.

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