The California Court of Appeal recently addressed the issue of whether an employer can be held liable for injuries caused by an employee under the doctrine of respondeat superior. In this unpublished opinion, the court assessed whether the going and coming rule applied to an employee who provided two other employees a ride to their employer-paid hotel and caused a traffic accident as they were driving home from work.
The trial court in this case applied the going and coming rule after the employer moved for summary judgment and the plaintiff moved for summary adjudication. The court had focused on the facts that the employees were responsible for arranging and paying for their transportation from the employer-provided hotel to the job site, the employer had not required employees to rideshare or carpool, and the employer did not benefit, even incidentally, from the ridesharing arrangement of the employees.
The employer in this case was Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. (H&P), a company that operates oil drilling rigs, including those in Kern County. Employees work a shift, called a “hitch” for the drilling rigs, which is a 12-hour day for 14 days, followed by 14 days off. The defendant employer provides hotel arrangements, should the employees want to stay close to the drilling site. Employees are responsible for paying for their transportation to and from the hotel and the job site.