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Johnson v. Stratlaw, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Johnson’s parents sued for wrongful death after their son got into a car accident and died when he worked for a pizza shop owned by Stratlaw, Inc.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    An employee is acting within the scope of employment if the employment creates a special risk, and the employee sustains injury within that risk.

    Facts.

    Johnson got into a car accident and died when he worked for a pizza shop owned by Stratlaw, Inc. (Stratlaw). Johnson’s parents sued for wrongful death. Johnson’s parents argued that the shift was not under the scope of employment because Johnson worked longer than eight hours in violation of the state’s labor laws. The trial court granted Stratlaw’s motion for summary judgment.

    Issue.

    Whether an employee is acting within the scope of employment if employment creates a special risk, and the employee sustains injury within that risk?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. Johnson would not have been on the road at 2:00 am if it had not been for his shift at the pizza shop. Similarly, Johnson working an excess of eight hours and being tired on the way home is a risk distinctive to Johnson and greater than the risk to the general public.

    Discussion.

    The special risk exception of the going-and-coming rule deems an employee to be acting within the scope of employment if the employment creates a special risk, and the employee sustains injury within that risk. The special risk exception applies where: (1) the employee would not have been in the area where the injury took place without the employment, and (2) the risk is greater to the employee than to the general public.


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