On June 13, 2018, a Louisiana Court of Appeal panel for the Third Circuit affirmed a previous judge’s ruling finding Walgreen Co. (“Walgreens”) vicariously liable for the damages resulting from a car accident caused by one of its pharmacists.
Walgreens pharmacist, Vivian Boutte (“Boutte”), was driving home from a training seminar in 2014 when her car struck the vehicle of Karen Sue Thibodeaux (“Thibodeaux”). The collision occurred when Boutte failed to yield, but because Boutte was driving from a training seminar for her work at Walgreens, the court held that the accident happened during the scope and course of her employment.
In its appeal of the original decision, Walgreens argued that Thibodeaux’s case did not meet the eight standards for “employment-rooted” conduct as described in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s 1994 Orgeron v. McDonald ruling. The appeal panel disagreed however, saying Thibodeaux satisfied most of the Orgeron factors because she was attending cholesterol testing training at the request of her supervisor, directly relating to Walgreens business.
In their opinion, the majority of the five-judge panel explained that “As Walgreens correctly points out, no single Orgeron factor is determinative and the factors must be considered in their totality. Because the majority of the Orgeron factors preponderate in favor of us finding that Ms. Boutte was in the course and scope of her employment when the accident occurred, we conclude that plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment was properly granted.”
Judge John E. Conery wrote the dissenting opinion, in which he expressed his belief that, once the seminar ended, Boutte was no longer in the course and scope of her employment because she was not paid for her travel time and Walgreens had no influence over where she went after the seminar.
Judge Conery reasoned that he “would find that the trial court erred in weighing the evidence and making a credibility determination when it found that there is no genuine issue of fact as to whether the training in Lafayette was required, or ‘primarily employment rooted,’ and whether Ms. Boutte was still ‘in the course and scope of her employment’ for Walgreens when the accident occurred.”
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Kang, Y. Peter. “Walgreens On Hook for La. Employee’s Auto Accident.” Law 360. Last modified on June 13, 2018.