E.S. v. Brunswick Inv. Ltd. P’ship

Brunswick Investment Limited Partnership (“Brunswick”) owned the premises where the plaintiff E.S., guardian ad litem for her two minor daughters, lived. Fred performed maintenance work for Brunswick at the property as well as others Brunswick owned. The plaintiff learned that Fred, who had worked in her unit, sexually assaulted her two daughters. The plaintiff sued, claiming Brunswick was negligent in hiring Fred and was vicariously liable for Fred’s criminal actions. The trial court granted Brunswick’s motion for summary judgment. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed. First, the Court ruled that the plaintiff failed to present a prima facie case to show that Brunswick’s negligence made it directly liable for Fred’s criminal conduct committed outside the scope of his employment. Second, the Court ruled that to hold Brunswick vicariously liable for Fred’s heinous criminal behavior, the plaintiff was required to demonstrate that Brunswick provided Fred with more than “merely the opportunity” to commit the crimes. But there was no such proof.

ES