Appealed from the 23rd Judicial District Court, In and for the Parish of Ascension State of Louisiana. Case No. 101,704. The Honorable Alvin Turner, Jr., Judge Presiding.
W. Paul Wilkins, Vincent J. Sotile, Jr., Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Counsel for Plaintiff/ Appellant, Brian Bova.
Robert A. Dunkelman, Jessica L. Thornhill, Shreveport, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendant/ Appellee, SPX Cooling Technologies, Inc.
BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND DRAKE, JJ.
[2014 0765 La.App. 1 Cir. 2]
In this suit arising from an automobile accident, the plaintiff appeals a judgment dismissing his respondent superior claims against the tortfeasor's employer. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This suit arises from a September 19, 2011 automobile collision which occurred when Jason Butler made a left turn into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Brian Bova, a guest passenger in the vehicle involved in the collision with Mr. Butler, filed a petition for damages against Mr. Butler for injuries sustained in the accident. Mr. Bova later amended his petition to assert claims against Mr. Butler's employer, SPX Cooling Technologies, Inc. (" SPX" ), alleging that at the time of the accident, Mr. Butler was acting in the course and scope of his employment with SPX. At the time of the accident, Mr. Butler was traveling from home and had
not yet arrived at work. Mr. Bova alleged that SPX was vicariously liable for Mr. Butler's negligence because SPX was compensating Mr. Butler for his travel time from his home in Brookhaven, Mississippi to his worksite in Geismar, Louisiana.
A bench trial was held on January 14, 2014, at which the only remaining claims were the claims against SPX. The parties stipulated at trial that the accident was caused by the fault of Mr. Butler. There were no allegations of negligence against SPX; the claims against SPX were based strictly on vicarious liability as Mr. Butler's employer. The trial court held that Mr. Bova failed to carry his burden of proving that Mr. Butler was in the course and scope of his employment with SPX at the time of the accident [2014 0765 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] and dismissed Mr. Bova's claims against SPX with prejudice. Mr. Bova timely filed this appeal.
Under Louisiana law, an employer is answerable for the damage occasioned by its servant in the exercise of the functions in which the servant is employed. Timmons v. Silman, 99-3264, p. 4 (La. 5/16/00), 761 So.2d 507, 510; La. C.C. art. 2320. Specifically, an employer is liable for its employee's torts if, at the time, the employee was acting within the course and scope of his employment. Id.; Baumeister v. Plunkett, 95-2270, p. 3 (La. 5/21/96), 673 So.2d 994, 996. An employee is acting within the course and scope of his employment when his action is " of the kind that he is employed to perform, occurs substantially within the authorized limits of time and space, and is activated at ...