Darin Hill, security guard at a nightclub in New York City, allegedly caused a patron, Plaintiff Fauntleroy, to suffer serious personal injuries during an altercation. Mr. Hill was employed by a security company, All Season Protection of NY, LLC. The operator of the nightclub, Sutol Operating Company, hired All Season Protection to provide security at the establishment. Mr. Hill, All Season Protection and Sutol Operating are all defendants in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Plaintiff Fauntleroy. Mr. Hill claimed he punched the patron in order to defend himself.
All the defendants made motions for summary judgment asking the Trial Court to dismiss the case. The Trial Court ruled in favor of the defendants and the case was dismissed. Plaintiff appealed. In Fauntleroy v. EMM Grp. Holdings LLC, 133 A.D.3d 452, 452-53, 20 N.Y.S.3d 22 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015) , the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the Trial Court’s decision. As such the case will be placed on the trial calendar in Bronx County Supreme Court.
The Second Department Court found that issues of fact existed regarding whether Defendant Hill was justified in punching the plaintiff given the preceding events, and whether the punch was excessive under the law. The case will also proceed against both Hill’s employer, All Season Protection and the operator of the establishment, Sutol. Under the law of vicarious liability an employer can be held responsible for negligent or even intentional acts of its employees IF the employees are acting within the cope of their employment or in furtherance of the business. Here, the use of physical force as a security guard or bouncer at a nightclub could certainly be considered within the scope of Hill’s employment. For these reasons, the Appellate Court reasoned that a jury should decide these questions.