Evidence

Court may not admit evidence of employee’s driving record supporting plaintiff’s negligent hiring claim where employer has already admitted vicarious liability. Dawn Renae Diaz v. Jose Carcamo, (No. S181627 California Supreme Court, June 23, 2011).

The California Supreme Court determined that a plaintiff cannot pursue negligent hiring and retention claims against a defendant if the defendant admits vicarious liability for any negligence of its employees.  Hence, the defendant would be entitled to have the judge exclude evidence of those claims including in this case a poor driving record and employment history, the driver’s dishonesty, his status as an illegal alien, and the resultant use of a “phony” social security number to obtain employment.  In overturning a 60-year-old case, Armenta v. Churchill (1954) 42 Cal.2d 448, the California Supreme Court indicated that marked changes have occurred in California Law on the allocation of liability for tort damages among multiple wrongdoers.  In particular, the elimination of the “all or nothing” system of tort liability with a comparative fault system has now modified California tort law so that the Armenta holding would be inappropriate.

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