operation by Singleton of the Volkswagen?
Answer -- -- -- -- -- --
'5. If the Answer to Question No. 4 is 'Yes', was Singleton's negligence a proximate cause of any injuries to plaintiff?
Answer -- -- -- -- -- --
'6. Was the impact between the Volkswagen driven by Singleton and the plaintiff's car on Park Road due in part to contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff?
Answer -- -- -- (Yes or No)
'7. If the answer to Question No. 6 is 'Yes', was the contributory negligence of the plaintiff a proximate cause of any injury to the plaintiff?
Answer -- -- -- (Yes or No)
'8. What damages do you fix under the instructions of the Court as to damages for any injuries sustained by plaintiff in the impact between the Volkswagen and plaintiff's car on Park Road? $ 19Answer -- -- -- -- -- -- 'Date: -- -- -- -- - $ 21
After deliberation, the Jury returned an answer of 'No' to Question #1; 'Yes' to Questions #2 and #3, and set the damages at $ 6,750.00, thus resolving the remaining disputed facts with a finding that Singleton at the time of the first collision was about the business of District Certified TV Service, Inc., that Singleton intentionally assaulted the plaintiff and that $ 6,750 would properly compensate the plaintiff for the injuries suffered by him as a result of the impact between plaintiff's car and the truck on Park Road.
With all the contested facts settled by the Jury, it remains for the Court to determine whether Singleton's employer, the defendant District Certified TV Service, Inc., is liable for the tort committed by Singleton in assaulting plaintiff with the truck on Park Road.
The rule governing the liability of an employer for an employee's intentional tort appears to have been first set forth in this jurisdiction in Axman v. Washington Gaslight Co., 38 App.D.C. 150 (1912). After considering many cases on the subject, the Court said (at 158):
'In the light of the these adjudications, we conceive the true test in measuring the principal's responsibility, to be whether the act of the agent was done in the prosecution of the business either impliedly or expressly intrusted to the agent by the principal. If it was, the principal is responsible for the manner in which the agent executed his commission, even if he acted wantonly, recklessly, or against orders. He represented his principal, and what he did was for the benefit of his principal. If his recklessness or lack of judgment caused loss or damage, it is only just that the one who selected and commissioned him should be held accountable therefor. Of course, the moment the agent turns aside from the business of the principal and commits an independent trespass, the principal is not liable. The agent is not then acting within the scope of his authority in the business of the principal, but in the furtherance of his own ends.'
The District of Columbia Code, § 40-609(a) imposes a duty upon the operator of any vehicle who shall do substantial damage therewith to stop and give certain information. Thus, when the truck operated by Singleton struck plaintiff's vehicle, doing substantial damage thereto, it became the duty of Singleton to stop and give the information required by § 40-609(a) of the Code.
From this it follows that, if, at the scene of the collision on Shepherd Street, Singleton had committed an assault in the course of giving the information required by statute, the assault would have been within the scope of his employment and his employer would be liable under the authority of Dilli v. Johnson, 71 App.D.C. 139, 107 F.2d 669 (1939).
But the assault did not occur under these circumstances, and so an additional point must be considered before rendering a judgment. Did the flight, involving as it did a chase of several miles over a period of 15 to 30 minutes, constitute a turning aside from the business of the principal so that the assault is an independent trespass for which the principal is not liable?
I hold that it did not. As long as the owner of the automobile which Singleton struck om Shepherd Street continuously sought the identification data which Singleton was required by § 40-609(a) to give, the duty imposed upon Singleton by that statute continued. Whether that duty would terminate when a driver leaves the scene of the collision if he were not pursued by one to whom he is required to give information, or whether conduct on the part of a driver who was later accosted after escape had been successfully made would be chargeable to the employer is not the question here. Because the owner of the damaged vehicle immediately and continuously was present and seeking the information which Singleton was required to give as part of his duty as a vehicle driver, Singleton continued to represent his principal during the flight.
Rather than constituting a turning aside from the principal's business, the flight in this case is an essential link in the unbroken chain of events which require that the assault be considered as 'done in the prosecution of the business * * * intrusted to the agent by the principal.' Axman v. Washington Gaslight Co., supra. Although Singleton 'may have been acting wantonly and contrary to his employer's interests, it is still true that he committed (the) assault while engaged on the master's business.' Ogilby v. Eskey, 121 A.2d 265 (D.C.Mun.App., 1956); accord, Dilli v. Johnson, 71 App.D.C. 139, 107 F.2d 669 (1939).
The Clerk will enter judgment for the plaintiff against the defendant District Certified TV Service, Inc., in the amount of $ 6,750.00, with interest and costs.
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