(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)
First it should be noted that the application, evaluation and weighing of these factors cannot possibly be conducted without the court making factual determinations and weighing evidence, a process incompatible with summary adjudication.
In O’Connor v. McDonald’s Restaurant, supra, 220 Cal.App.3d 25 plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a McDonald’s employee. The employee had voluntarily returned to the restaurant one evening from 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. in order to do extra cleaning and preparation for a “spring blitz” competition. The employee voluntarily contributed his extra time with a goal of receiving a promotion. He then traveled from McDonald’s to a co-workers house where he socialized until about 6:30 a.m. The accident occurred when he was traveling from the co-worker’s house to his own house. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of McDonald’s, finding that he was on a special errand for McDonald’s when he voluntarily reported for cleanup duties, but that the stop at the co-worker’s house was a “complete departure” from the special errand and McDonald’s responsibility for his driving therefore terminated before the accident occurred. The court of appeal disagreed, and after applying the factors set forth in Felix v. Asai, concluded that there was a triable issue of material facts as to whether the trip to the co-worker’s house constituted a complete departure from the special errand. O’Connor v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc. Supra, 220 Cal.App.3d at 33-34.
In applying the factors set forth by the court in Felix v. Asai, the inescapable conclusion is that there is a clear nexus between Smythe’s arrival at the site of the accident and her work for ABC.
Smythe’s drive to nearby San Francisco was for both business and personal reasons. In her declaration ABC President Smythe stated the following:
“While I was in California, my employer paid for a rental vehicle for my use and provided a house for me to stay in San Anselmo, California. The sole purpose of my trip to California was to do business for ABC, including participating in the ITC symposium for ABC, to promote ABC’s technology solutions, and to meet with customers and employees. In effect, I was always “on duty” for ABC, whether I was physically at the symposium or at some remote location. Part of my work duties for ABC included checking my company e-mail and responding to questions concerning ABC business. Unfortunately the ABC house in San Anselmo did not have internet access at that time, so I was unable to perform my e-mail duties and related business obligations while using the San Anselmo house. I drove to the San Rafael office at night to get internet access. On the evening of July 17, 2006, I chose to drive to my friend’s home in nearby San Francisco which had wireless internet access. This would allow me to check my e-mail and fulfill my business obligations to
ABC, as well as visit with my friend. I intended to charge ABC for performing work-related duties, whether they were performed in San Francisco or San Rafael.”
Thus, under California law, President Smythe was in the scope of her employment because the trip besides having a personal purpose:
1. Conferred a benefit on ABC (internet access to her job), and
2. Smythe was pre-approved by her boss, ABC CEO Victoria Chan. The CEO controlled all the activities that went on in California for the benefit of the company, even approving what the employees could do after hours. (See Part 13 of 14.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.