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Court says Home Depot may be liable in employee murder

If Maryland employees are injured or killed by someone they work with, their employer might be liable even if the incident occurs away from work. A lawsuit has been filed against Home Depot after one of its employees was murdered by a supervisor, and the U.S. Court of Appeals has remanded it back to the trial court..

A U.S. district court had dismissed the case on the grounds that Home Depot could not have predicted that the supervisor's verbal harassment and intimidation of an employee would end in her murder. However, the appellate court noted that despite knowing the man's history of harassing female employees, Home Depot allowed him to continue as a supervisor. Home Depot also took the position that since the murder took place away from their premises and did not involve any items from their premise, the company was not liable.

The appellate court took a different view in arguing that the man did have tools from the company and that they were the supervisor's power to fire the employee or cut her hours if she did not accompany him on the trip. Home Depot was aware of issues with sexual harassment and had ordered the man to attend classes in anger management. However, the company did not follow up to see if he did so.

As this case demonstrates, a person who has suffered an injury or whose loved one has died because of the actions of a coworker or supervisor might be able to hold the employer liable. Other cases that might involve a wrongful death suit include car accidents and surgical errors. Whatever the specifics of the situation, a court case will focus on whether the person or entity responsible was negligent in some way.

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