(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)
Plaintiff, JOHN GIBBS, submits this Opposition to Defendant ABC MANUFACTURING, INC’S (hereinafter, “ABC”), Motion for Summary Judgment.
NANCY SMYTHE, who had previously been employed by ABC, returned to the company in April 2006. There was never any formal agreement. During the years Ms. Smythe was not working for ABC, the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of ABC, Victoria Chan , had from time to time asked Ms. Smythe to return. In April of 2006, Ms. Smythe sent CEO Chan an email offering to consult for a short period.
While initially anticipating this would be a short term, part-time assignment, the job quickly morphed into full-time employment during which Ms. Smythe was an employee, engaged in all aspects of running, improving, and directing the company. CEO Chan told not only Ms. Smythe but also ABC customers, potential customers, and employees that Ms. Smythe was ABC’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Smythe was working full time, was paid hourly, and never took on any other consulting clients. As an employee and President, Ms. Smythe’s work was controlled and directed by CEO Chan. Ms. Smythe served at Chan’s pleasure. Ms. Chan had the right to fire employee Smythe without notice.
Each year in July, ABC attended a conference of international technology leaders in Marin County (“ITC Conference”) with the hopes of finding new customers and expanding its manufacturing and business base. In 2006, CEO Chan planned to attend and was a scheduled speaker at the conference. She directed ABC President Smythe to attend; she complied. CEO Chan, President Price, and a number of other lesser ABC employees made the trip from ABC’s headquarters in Austin, Texas to Marin County, California where the ITC conference was held. It was a multi-day rip to promote ABC.
CEO Chan spoke at the conference on July 17, 2006. President Smythe also attended. In the evening, President Smythe could have stayed at a house rented by ABC in San Anselmo. However, one of Ms. Smythe’s duties as President of ABC was to check and read her company emails and respond to them. To do this ABC gave her a laptop computer. To access her emails while on the company trip to Marin County, Ms. Smyhte needed consistent internet access. Unfortunately, there was no adequate internet access at ABC’s San Anselmo house. Because of this, Ms. Smythe had to drive somewhere to get internet access to read her company emails.
Ms. Smythe had a friend, who had previously worked for her, living in nearby San Francisco with internet access. She considered driving to her friend’s house. It would be a trip with both a business (check and respond to emails) and a personal (visit her friend) purpose.
She told CEO Chan of her plans, and Chan agreed. Had Chan not given her approval, President Smythe would not have gone. With Chan’s approval, Ms. Smythe began her drive to San Francisco. On the way she struck and catastrophically injured Plaintiff John Gibbs. No alcohol was involved.
Defendant ABC claims it is not responsible and it brings this motion for Summary Judgment. ABC claims Ms. Smythe was not an employee and, if she were, she was not engaged in the scope of her employment.
As will be shown herein, ABC is incorrect and its motion should be denied. Numerous triable issues of material fact exist regarding whether Smythe was an employee or an independent contractor, and whether she was in the scope of her employment for ABC when she was involved in the automobile accident with John Gibbs on July 17, 2006. (See Part 2 of 14.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.