The New York Personal Injury Blog

Ferrari Motorcycle Collision Death: Employer's Liability

An act of juvenile carelessness may have caused the death of an innocent motorcyclist, reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Two employees of Gotham Dream Cars, Joseph Ferretti, 28, of Dumont, and Joseph Meyer, 19, of Oveido, Florida were driving Ferrari F430s at a "high rate of speed" back from the gas station to their employer's place of business when the accident occurred.

Joseph Meyer was operating a silver Ferrari when he lost control of the car, hit a couple of curbs, and spun out of control. Joseph Feretti was operating a red Ferrari and swerved to avoid Meyer's car. He crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with Stephen Lenge, of Kinnelon. Lenge was riding a motorcycle. He did not survive.

The criminal implications of the accident are already in motion. However, should their employer be worrying as well? Probably so, if the two were acting in the course of business.

Reports say that the two were returning from filling the gas tanks for an event that night. Since they were in the process of handling work errands, their actions were likely done in the scope of employment. It does not matter if they were not allowed to do what they did, or if they were making a minor diversion from their duties. Their employer is still probably vicariously liable for their negligent conduct.

The major exception would be if they were “frolicking,” which (as a legal term) has nothing to do with skipping daintily through a forest. Frolics are complete diversions from work duties. Examples would be grabbing a company car to go on a personal errand. There is obviously some grey area, but merely engaging in some street racing on the way back to work after running a work errand would likely qualify as “in the scope” and not a “frolic.”

Another possibility would be a theory of negligent entrustment. At this point, there is no indication that either driver had a history of poor driving, speeding or other vehicular violations that would predict their alleged idiotic behavior. However, if their records turn up with loads of speeding tickets and their employer knew or should have known about it, then their employer could also be liable under a negligent entrustment theory.

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