June 3, 2012 - Respondeat Superior

Respondeat Superior

[Latin, Let the master answer.] A common-law doctrine that makes an employer liable for the actions of an employee when the actions take place within the scope of employment.

"The common-law doctrine of respondeat superior was established in seventeenth-century England to define the legal liability of an employer for the actions of an employee...

"The legal relationship between an employer and an employee is called agency...The theory behind respondeat superioris that the principal controls the agent's behavior and must then assume some responsibility for the agent's actions.

"...The employer controls, or has a right to control, the time, place, and method of doing work. When the facts show that an employer-employee (principal-agent) relationship exists, the employer can be held responsible for the injuries caused by the employee in the course of employment.

"...A court may consider the employee's job description or assigned duties, the time, place, and purpose of the employee's act, the extent to which the employee's actions conformed to what she was hired to do, and whether such an occurrence could reasonably have been expected."

This appears to resemble the kind of control that the various levels of government exercise over the people. The "court may consider" (read assume) this relationship exists and then judge accordingly? How are we, or could we, be considered an employee of government so as to allow the courts to consider it be our respondeat superior?

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