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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Ind. Decisions - "Security company may be liable for guard shooting East Chicago woman"

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision in Stacy Knighten v. East Chicago Housing Authority (ILB summary here) is the subject of a story today by Dan Carden of the NWI Times:

INDIANAPOLIS | An East Chicago woman paralyzed after being shot in the back by her then-boyfriend, a private security guard at her public housing complex, can seek damages from his employer.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday authorized a trial against Davis Security Service LLC to determine whether Donnell Caldwell, a Davis guard at the West Calumet Complex, was acting within the scope of his duties when he shot Stacy Knighten on Aug. 7, 2010.

According to court records, Caldwell was working the housing complex's entrance guard shack while he argued with Knighten about her spending his money and using his car to drive drunk to the liquor store.

At some point during the argument, Knighten damaged the entrance gate to the complex. After she began walking away, Caldwell drew his handgun and shot Knighten in the back, paralyzing her from the waist down, records indicate.

In its 5-0 decision, written by Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, the Supreme Court concluded that Lake Superior Judge John Pera and the Indiana Court of Appeals were too hasty in granting and approving summary judgement absolving Davis Security of liability.

The justices said a trial is needed to determine whether Caldwell was required by his employer to be armed at work, and whether his shooting of Knighten was in keeping with his duty "to deter or mitigate the risk of loss" at the housing complex.

The high court noted that typically employers are not liable if an employee engages in a wrongful act at work, so long as the conduct is not intended by the employee to serve any purpose of the employer.

In this case, the justices said it is possible Caldwell's shooting Knighten may have been work-related. As such, summary judgment is not appropriate and a trial is necessary to determine the facts.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 9, 2015 09:51 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions