Rhodes v. U.S. West Coast Taekwondo Assn., Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 09-16-2015
  • Case #: A154975
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Hadlock, J.; & DeVore, P.J. (dissenting)
  • Full Text Opinion

In a negligence action, a former employer may be liable for harm caused by negligent training and supervision of employees and unsafe operating policies, where by express agreement employees were to be hired by the new employer taking over operations.

Plaintiff, guardian ad litem, brought a negligence action on behalf of Victoria, a minor child, after Victoria suffered permanent injuries following a near-drowning incident at a pool operated by one of the defendants, the newly established aquatic district (the Aquatic District). The Aquatic District had just taken over operation of the pool, located at Tigard High School, from the Tigard-Tualatin School District (the School District). At the time of the incident, the Aquatic District was responsible for operating and maintaining the pool, hiring and managing staff, meeting inspection requirements, ensuring employees were properly certified and employing a manager. Part of the agreement when operation of the pool transferred to the Aquatic District was that it was to establish rules and regulations, including safety and sanitary standards, which it did establish prior to Victoria’s incident. Another element of the transfer agreement was that the Aquatic District would give the School District employees the option to continue their employment, which many of them chose to do. Plaintiff alleged that the School District was liable for negligently training employees, and because the Aquatic District was required to retain those employees and did not have to establish new rules and regulations right away, Victoria’s incident was reasonably foreseeable. The School District moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted on the basis that it was not reasonably foreseeable that supervision, training and procedures for employees no longer under the School District’s control would carry over to a future employer and result in harm. On appeal, the Court held the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to defendant School District because a question of fact remained whether, under the particular circumstances of the case, harm may have been foreseeable to the School District at the time of transfer of operations to the Aquatic District and when Victoria was injured just a few weeks later. Reversed and remanded.

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