The plaintiff Debra A. Barnett is seeking damages from the defendant Camille Clark, Trustee of Pleasant Township in Steuben County, Indiana, for the conduct constituting rape, sexual battery, and false imprisonment committed by one of the Trustee’s employees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant Trustee, and the Court of Appeals reversed. In appealing the grant of summary judgment, the plaintiff has contended that that the Trustee may be held vicariously liable for its employee’s actions under the theory of respondeat superior for wrongful acts committed within the scope of the employment. She argues that summary judgment is improper because some of the employee’s acts were authorized, and thus the question of whether the employee’s injurious acts to the plaintiff, even if unauthorized, were nevertheless within the scope of employment, is a jury question. In response, the defendant Trustee contends that, because the employee’s authorized job duties did not involve any physical contact with the plaintiff, the Trustee is not vicariously liable as a matter of law for acts clearly outside the scope of employment.
Conclusion (slip op. at 6): We affirm the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment to the defendant, Camille Clark, Trustee of Pleasant Township, Steuben County, Indiana.
Key Analysis (slip op. at 6): We conclude here that the injurious actions of the deputy trustee were not sufficiently associated with his employment duties so as to fall within the scope of the deputy’s employment by the defendant Trustee . . . Other than perhaps a greeting handshake, the employee was not explicitly or impliedly authorized to touch or confine applicants for assistance. His alleged acts of confining, sexually touching, and raping the plaintiff were not an extension of authorized physical con-tact. Such acts were not incidental to nor sufficiently associated with the deputy trustee’s authorized duties. They did not further his employer’s business. And they were not motivated to any extent by his employer’s interests.
Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.
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