Is Employer Liable for Drunk Employee's Car Accident Causing Death ?

In Estate of Catlin v. General Motors Corp., 936 S.W.2d 447, 450 (Tex.App.--Houston), an employee of Fluor Daniel, Inc., Davis, became intoxicated at a company fish fry held for company employees on company property following a softball game. The party began around 4:30 in the afternoon. While the employee who had planned the fish fry left the party around 8:30, other employees stayed until late in the evening, drinking "lots of beers and hard liquor." Davis and a coworker then left the party and headed to a bar, where they stayed until closing time. After leaving the bar, Davis collided with Catlin's automobile, causing Catlin's death. Fluor Daniel successfully urged on summary judgment that it did not owe a duty to the unknown third party. Catlin's estate argued that the company had used its special relationship of employer-employee to control the activity of employees on company property. In short, the estate contended that the company assumed a duty because it instituted a plan to control the consumption of alcohol on company premises and at company-sponsored events and that it had breached the duty by failing to comply with the policies and procedures which had been implemented. On appeal, the appellate court concluded that there was no indication that Fluor Daniel or its employees knew that Davis was intoxicated to the point of incapacity. Catlin, 936 S.W.2d at 451. Further, Fluor Daniel's activities did not constitute an attempt to control the employees.