Mark sued a bank for injuries. He was not paying attention as he entered the bank because he was looking at his phone. And he fell suffering $10,000 in injuries. Prior to the fall, the janitor had buffed the floor. The janitor had an IQ of 70. Normally, the janitor was closely supervised. However, today his manager was extremely tired, and the manager didn’t notice that the janitor had carelessly used way too much floor wax that was extremely slippery. Is the bank liable for the janitor’s negligence (be sure to go through all the elements. Additionally, note that under the doctrine of respondeat superior the bank WILL be liable for any potential negligence of the janitor employee)? What defenses will the bank assert? Assume that the jurisdiction does not recognize assumption of risk or contributory negligence. The jurisdiction does recognize the defense of comparative negligence. In order to title a negligence claim a person must first show that the defendant had to have acted a certain way toward the plaintiff. Second that the defendant failed to act in a reasonable manner.
Finally, the plaintiff must show they suffered actual damages or loss due to the unreasonable behavior. Negligence is a behavior or conduct creates an unreasonable risk or harm to others. The bank will be responsible for the janitor’s negligence. The janitor is considered an employee of the bank. Therefore, under the doctrine of repondeat superior the bank is responsible for the negligent actions of the janitor. Repondeant Superior, states that the employee is liable for the actions of an employee when the actions take place within the scope of employment. This gives a person injured in a place of business a better chance of recovering damages, In this case the employer is considered the principal and the employee the agent.
Under respondent superior the principal has control over the agents’ behavior and must take responsibility for the agents’ actions. In this case the bank must take responsibility of the janitor. The bank could argue that Mark contributed to the fall for not paying attention to his surroundings by paying more attention to his cell phone than to where he was walking. They could argue that if he had not been on his cell phone he would noticed the shiny slippery floors. This is called Contributory Negligence, but the courts do not recognize this defense. Mark could then go for his damages or loss under Comparative Negligence. Meaning he could do one of the two things: 1.) he could have all his damages totaled and then reduced by what would be his negligence in the matter or 2.) The courts could say he can’t recover anything if they find that he was just as negligence as the bank or janitor.