A sobering case out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit may give pause to Californians about workplace injuries and liability. The case centers around a murder of a pregnant Home Depot employee that was committed by her supervisor.
The employee had previously complained about sexual harassment and intimidation against her by her supervisor to the company, but Home Depot reportedly continued to allow him to supervise her. The supervisor later directed the employee to accompany him on a trip while he held the power to demote or fire her. While they were on the trip, he sexually assaulted and murdered the woman.
Home Depot moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the supervisor's murderous act was not reasonably foreseeable and that the murder and assault happened when the two were not on the premises of the company. The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint, and the plaintiff appealed. The Seventh Circuit reversed the lower court's decision, finding that the supervisor's previous pattern of intimidation and harassment should have placed the company on notice that the man should not have held the power to fire or demote her. The court returned the case to the lower court for further proceedings. The supervisor was convicted of the offenses and is serving two life sentences.
When the negligence of others contributes to the deaths of victims, their families may be able to recover damages in subsequent wrongful death lawsuits. Experienced personal injury attorneys may assess the potential claims and advise people about whether they have the grounds to file lawsuits. The lawyers may also name all of the potential defendants in order to increase the likelihood that their clients will recover the compensation to which they should be entitled to compensate them for all of the losses that they have suffered.