Day v. Davidson

In Day v. Davidson, 951 P.2d 378 (Wyo. 1997), Day had filed an action based on vicarious liability against Pamida, Inc. based on the negligent acts of one of its employees. Day accepted an offer of judgment from Pamida and then subsequently filed an action against the employee based on the negligent act underlying the vicarious liability claim. The Court held that Day could not bring a subsequent action against the employee based on the fact that, as a vicarious liability situation, the employee was entitled to be credited with the amount of the judgment entered against his employer leaving Day with nothing to recover from the employee. 951 P.2d at 383. In Day v. Davidson, a store employee apparently placed a bookcase on a counter. 951 P.2d at 380. The bookcase fell from the counter, struck Mrs. Day, who was a customer in the store, and injured her. Id. Mrs. Day and her husband brought a lawsuit against the store. Id. Prior to the trial, the store offered to have a judgment entered against it, and the Days accepted the offer. Id. The judgment stated that the store was vicariously liable for its employee's negligence. 951 P.2d at 379-80. The Days subsequently brought suit against the employee, alleging he was negligent. 951 P.2d at 381. The district court granted a summary judgment in favor of the employee, concluding that the Days' claims against the employee were barred by the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata. Id. The Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision in Day but on a different basis. 951 P.2d at 379-80. The Court determined that a judgment entered by consent of the parties must be treated as an adjudication on the merits. 951 P.2d at 382. The Court ruled that, when a judgment is entered against a party who is vicariously liable for the injured party's damages, the injured party is bound by the amount of damages recited in the judgment. Id. Accordingly, the total amount of damages the Days could obtain for Mrs. Day's injury was the amount of damages set out in the judgment against the store. 951 P.2d at 382-83. The Court also ruled that the employee was entitled to have the amount paid by the store credited against any judgment entered against him. 951 P.2d at 383. Because the Days were not entitled to additional compensation from the employee, the district court properly entered a summary judgment in the employee's favor. Id.