The Texas Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in a case concerning negligent hiring and supervision. Wansey v. Hole, No. 11-0348 (Tex. June 29, 2012), available at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2012/jun/110348.pdf.
A couple enrolled their minor daughter in a driving course operated by the defendant. One evening, the father observed his daughter backing away from one of her driving instructors as they stood outside in the dark. Both denied any wrongdoing. The couple demanded a full refund, but the defendant provided only a partial refund.
The mother sued, alleging breach of contract and grossly negligent or malicious hiring, training, supervision, or retention. The jury awarded the mother the cost of the course, attorneys’ fees, and exemplary damages. The appellate court reversed the contract claim.
The appeal to the Texas Supreme Court focused on the negligent hiring and supervision claim. The Court held that a negligent hiring claim requires that some harmful or negligent conduct of an employee proximately caused an injury. Here, the mother failed to present legally sufficient evidence of harm caused by an employee hired pursuant to the defendant’s hiring policies. The parents thought the situation with the driving instructor was inappropriate, but they had no proof that anything illegal occurred, that proper hiring and supervision policies would have prevented the incident, or that their daughter was harmed. The Court rendered judgment for the defendant.
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