The MBTA has fired the operator of the Green Line trolley that crashed into another at Boylston Station on November 29, 2012. This past Wednesday, the T said the driver may have fallen asleep before the accident that sent 37 to the hospital and caused $500,000 in damages, according to WBUR and local news sources.
The operator had apparently been moonlighting, something about which the MBTA does not ask its employees.
Nevertheless, the MBTA can be held liable for the personal injuries of all those passengers.
The familiar doctrine of respondeat superior, over 300 years old, holds that a master is vicariously liable for injury or harm to third persons caused by his servant’s negligent physical acts and other tortious conduct committed within the scope of his employment.
The relation of master and servant must exist at the time the third party is injured in order for the doctrine of respondeat superior to be applicable. This means that at the time in question, the servant’s act was performed in the course of doing his master’s work, in carrying out his master’s directions, or in accomplishing his master’s business, and that the master had the right to control the servant’s physical activities.
Thus, the master is liable if the act of the servant is done in the course of doing the master’s work and for the purpose of accomplishing it, whether the wrong done be occasioned by negligence, or by a wanton and reckless purpose to accomplish the master’s business in an unlawful manner.
Conduct of an employee is within the scope of his employment if (1) it is of the kind he is employed to perform; (2) it occurs substantially within the authorized time and space limits; and (3) it is motivated, at least in part, by a purpose to serve the employer.
In this situation, the employee was clearly acting within his scope of employment with the MBTA when he was driving the trolley.
To see a video of the MBTA accident click on the following links:
For a free consultation on a personal injury case, please feel free to contact Considine & Furey, LLP at 617-723-7200.