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Tort/Negligence – Negligent Supervision – Police Department – Detective Misconduct

By: Teresa Bruno, Opinions Editor//July 20, 2018

Tort/Negligence – Negligent Supervision – Police Department – Detective Misconduct

By: Teresa Bruno, Opinions Editor//July 20, 2018

With her numerous evidentiary forecasts about defendants’ knowledge of their police detective’s misconduct, plaintiff has made out a claim of negligent supervision against the defendant-county and its police department.

The court grants defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s claim under the State Tort Claims Act insofar as it attempts to hold defendants vicariously liable for the detective’s intentional conduct. The motion is denied with respect to plaintiff’s claim of negligent supervision.

A government entity is not liable for loss resulting from “employee conduct outside the scope of his official duties or which constitutes actual fraud, actual malice, intent to harm, or a crime involving moral turpitude.” S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-60(17). Defendants cannot be held vicariously liable for the intentional tortious conduct and alleged criminal activity of their detective, Troy Large. Therefore, to the extent that plaintiff attempts to hold defendants vicariously liable for Detective Large’s intentional tortious conduct or criminal conduct, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted.

However, an employer may be liable for negligent supervision of an employee when his employee intentionally harms another if the plaintiff can show the employee (1) is on the employer’s premises, is on premises he is privileged to enter only as an employee, or is using the employer’s chattel; (2) the employer knows or has reason to know that he has the ability to control the employee; and (3) the employer knows or has reason to know of the necessity and opportunity to exercise such control. The employer’s liability for a negligent supervision claim is direct, not derivative. Plaintiff has set forth sufficient evidence to create a jury issue regarding defendants’ notice of their need to exercise control of Detective Large prior to his alleged misconduct occurring from January 2015 to December 2015.

As just one example, plaintiff presents evidence that defendants were originally made aware of concerns regarding Detective Large’s inappropriate contact with crime victims back in 2003. The correspondence, authored by Detective Large’s father-in-law, is addressed to Lieutenant Scott Rutherford and copies the Horry County Police Department (HCPD) Chief, an HCPD Captain and the Chairman of the Horry County Council. The letter is a follow up on a meeting that Detective Large’s father-in-law had with members of the HCPD to voice concerns about Detective Large’s interactions with crime victims.

Specifically, the letter alleges that Detective Large had moved a crime victim into his home while his wife was out of town on business. The letter further alleges that Detective Large used county vehicles for stalking purposes.

Viewing this and other evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff and drawing all reasonable inferences from the evidence presented in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the court finds that plaintiff has met its burden in showing that there are genuine factual issues that can only be properly resolved by a finder of fact with regards to the negligent supervision claim asserted by plaintiff.

Motion granted in part; denied in part.

Doe-3 v. Horry County (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-142-18, 13 pp.) (A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., J.) 4:16-cv-02476. Amy Suzanne Lawrence, James Bernice Moore III and Scott Christopher Evans for plaintiff; Samuel Arthur III, Bonnie Travaglio Hunt and Lisa Arlene Thomas for defendants. D.S.C.


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