California Landmark Cases on the Respondeat Superior Principle

"Under the common law doctrine of respondeat superior, a principal or employer is vicariously liable for the acts of an agent or employee committed in the course of employment." (Lathrop v. HealthCare Partners Medical Group (2004) 114 Cal.App.4th 1412, 1421; Kaplan v. Coldwell Banker Residential Affiliates, Inc. (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 741, 745-746.) The nexus that is required for finding a tortious act was committed within the course and scope of employment for the purpose of imposing respondeat superior liability is "that the tort be engendered by or arise from the work." (Lisa M. v. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital (1995) 12 Cal.4th 291, 298 (Lisa M.).) "The tortious occurrence must be 'a generally foreseeable consequence of the employer's activity' which 'means that in the context of the particular enterprise an employee's conduct is not so unusual or startling that it would seem unfair to include the loss resulting from it among other costs of the employer's business.' " (Id. at p. 299.) The determination of whether an employee's acts are within the course and scope of employment is generally a question of fact, but the issue may be decided as a matter of law if "'"the facts are undisputed and no conflicting inferences are possible."' " (Lisa M., supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 299.) "Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is vicariously liable for his employee's torts committed within the scope of the employment." (Perez v. Van Groningen & Sons, Inc. (1986) 41 Cal.3d 962, 967.) "The employer's liability extends beyond his actual or possible control of the employee to include risks inherent in or created by the enterprise." (Id. at p. 968 .) "'The inquiry should be whether the risk was one "that may fairly be regarded as typical of or broadly incidental" to the enterprise undertaken by the employer. .' ." (Ibid.) "It is also settled that an employer's vicarious liability may extend to willful and malicious torts of an employee as well as negligence. ." (Farmers Ins. Group v. County of Santa Clara (1995) 11 Cal.4th 992, 1004.)