The Maine Supreme Court ruled last week that damages from a man’s bout of road rage does not have to be covered by his employer’s car insurance company.
The inicident took place in 2007 while the appellant, Michael Bryant, was driving a car covered with decals for a business called Prime Cut Meat Market, which he was the co-owner of.
According to court documents, when Bryant was driving from a campground he felt that another driver on the road, Francis Latanowich, was driving in a way that put him and others at risk. And when Bryant stopped behind Latanowich at a stop light, he exited the vehicle and “struck Latanowich repeatedly in the head and chest.”
Court documents show Latanowich and his wife sued Bryant and Prime Cut “for, among other things, assault and battery, false imprisonment, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Prime Cut’s insurer, Travelers—which was one of the top rated auto insurance companies for customer service in Maine in 2009—argued that it had no responsibility to pay for the damages caused by Bryant’s road rage.
A lower court agreed with Travelers because the policy covered employees of the business “only for acts within the scope of their employment … or while performing duties related to the conduct of your business.”
When the lower court considered the case, the main issue was whether Bryant was leaving the campground to go check on Prime Cut’s store freezers.
But the Supreme Court justices wrote in their opinion that, regardless of whether Bryant was leaving to go check on the store freezers, he was not acting in a business capacity when he got out of his car to assault Latanowich. As a result, Travelers Insurance does not have to pay for the damages that came out of that incident.
“Neither the assault nor Bryant’s motive for it were related to the conduct of Prime Cut’s business or within the scope of his employment with Prime Cut,” the justices wrote.