Synopsis of Rule of Law. Although an employer is generally not liable for the negligent acts of an independent contractor, there is an exception to this rule which stems from the nondelegable duty doctrine. Nondelegable duties can be imposed on an employer where the performance of the work itself is inherently dangerous.
Facts. In April 1987, Wilson, on behalf of Grief Brothers, entered into a contract with Youngstown Security Patrol (YSP) to supply a uniformed security guard to deter theft and vandalism on Grief Brothers’ property at night. Wilson told YSP that he wanted the guard to periodically check the parking lot and inside the building, but did not provide any further instructions, nor discuss whether the guard should be armed. Bator was the guard assigned to the property. He was not certified to carry a gun but he kept one in his briefcase. At 1:00 a.m. on August 12, 1991, Bator looked through a window in the guard office and saw two men. Bator first went outside without the gun, but when the men were first evasive then became angry and called Bator a “mother fucker”ť Bator then went in and got the gun. When he revealed it to the men, Pusey made a quick movement. Bator thought he was reaching for a gun and Bator fired, striking Pusey in the back of his head. Pusey died from the wound.
Issue. Whether Grief Brothers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of an independent contractor.