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Office Party Gone Wild: No Liability Where CFO Strikes Co-Worker

December 1, 2011

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In <em>Milosevic v. O’Donnell</em>, plaintiff sued to recover for injuries she sustained after she was struck by her company’s CFO at an office party. Plaintiff sued her employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior, seeking to hold it responsible for the CFO’s actions. Plaintiff also sought to hold her employer liable in negligence for sponsoring the event, claiming that there was a “culture” of alcohol use at off-premises, company events.
With regard to the respondeat superior claim, the court held that there was no allegation that the CFO was acting within the scope of his employment when the attack occurred or that a work-related issue precipitated the assault.  Rather, the evidence showed that the CFO “lost control of his senses” and attacked plaintiff “for no apparent reason.”  With regard to plaintiff’s claim that the defendant negligently sponsored the office party, the court held that there was no evidence that the defendant knew of the CFO’s violent propensities when intoxicated or the possibility of an assault.  Therefore, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the negligence and "intentional and/or wanton conduct" causes of action against the employer.
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Thanks to Gabe Darwick for his contribution to this post.

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