Seattle, WA asked in Criminal Law and Employment Law for Washington

Q: I had an incident happen where I believe I am the victim of hiring negligence, or negligent retention.

This is regarding a protective order I have against an ex granted in 2019 that was originally granted for one year. After one strike on the protection order that she plead guilty to, the order was extended an additional 5 years. She just recently reoffended (strike two) where she attempted to run me off the road, attempted to hit my car, and then chased me through parking lots. There is video evidence, as well as surveillance footage from local businesses the police have obtained. That was about 2 weeks ago. After the first offense and over a year after the original order was filed) she was hired at a company. It was while working for this company, on company time, while driving a company vehicle, she committed the 2nd offense. I am wondering if there is any legal action I should be taking for this aside from the criminal one against the offender.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the facts provided, you may have a valid claim against the company for negligent hiring or retention of the employee who violated the protective order while on duty. Here are some key considerations:

- Washington law recognizes claims against employers for negligent hiring, retention and supervision when they knew or should have known an employee posed a risk of harm to others.

- The company hiring this individual with an active protective order against them shows questionable judgment and lack of thorough background screening. A protective order should raise red flags.

- After the first violation of the order, the company arguably had duty to take corrective action such as re-assignment, discipline or termination given the known risk. Their failure to act may constitute negligence.

- The fact the violation occurred while in a company vehicle and on company time strengthens the link to the employer's liability.

- You likely have viable damages to seek related to emotional distress, trauma, any physical injuries, etc. Punitive damages may also be warranted given the egregious circumstances.

- Consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can review the evidence, evaluate potential corporate negligence, and advise you on your best course of legal action.

- The employer may be liable even if the individual employee is also found criminally responsible. The two are not mutually exclusive.

In summary, you appear to have a good case to pursue civil charges against the company based on their negligence enabling these events to occur. An experienced attorney can best advise how to proceed.

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