I do not practice criminal law. Rather, 100% of my Las Vegas law practice is devoted to personal injury and wrongful death cases. On occasion, I have been asked to consider whether an employer may be civilly liable for the criminal acts of its employee. In some instances, the answer is yes! While every case requires careful, individual consideration, what follows is a brief example of a personal injury wrongful death case against a Nevada employer who was held civilly liable for the criminal acts of its employee.
In December of 2009, a process server employee illegally brandished a firearm while serving legal documents on a former police officer. The officer fled the scene unharmed. Concerned for his safety, as well as the safety of others, he reported the incident to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro). During Metro’s criminal investigation, detectives contacted the suspect’s employer and notified them of their pending investigation. They asked to interview the suspect employee about the crime. Unfortunately, he was unavailable at the time. Notwithstanding Metro’s direct inquiry, the employer did nothing (or very little) to follow up with their employee about the incident, or further ensure that he was fit for employment as a process server.
Weeks later, in January of 2010, the same process server employee gained access to a Las Vegas residence under the guise of his employment. Once inside, he inflicted unforgivable criminal acts against an unsuspecting family. He murdered a husband and father. He robbed the family of their limited possessions. He shot the wife in the face, leaving her to die in a linen closet.
Not only did the wife survive this horrible incident, she later testified against the employee during his criminal trial. This was one of the most courageous acts I have EVER witnessed. I watched as this broken woman carefully took the stand and starred down the man who tried to end her life. She visibly shook. She pleaded. She cried. She screamed. The suspect, free of any physical restraints, remained motionless. He offered her nothing– not even an apology. The jury later determined the employee defendant would pay for his criminal acts with his own life.
During the criminal proceedings, the employer also took the stand. Of interest, they described its soon-to-be convicted process server as a “star employee.”
Remmel Law Firm was retained by the surviving family members to pursue a personal injury wrongful death claim against the process server’s employer. After years of litigation and, in light of the evidence that the employer had actual notice that its employee was unfit for employment, the matter settled for $1 Million Dollars. While this settlement does nothing to replace a husband and father, or repair the deep emotional scars of the surviving family members, it is an important concept of justice that may be worth pursuing.
If you have suffered injuries, harms, or losses as the result of a criminal act, please contact Remmel Law Firm at (702) 522-7707 for free consultation.