Billy owns a bike shop in a coastal California town. His shop sells and repairs bikes. One of his employees was repairing a bike with one of those pesky intermittent problems that would never occur when the repair technician was around. The customer said that the gears periodically would not shift properly. The employee took the bike out for a test ride hoping to replicate the problem. The problem did not appear. Because it was approaching noon, the employee decided to ride the bike home to have lunch. On the way back to the shop, the employee hit a small child and injured her.

Discuss the liability of the employee and Billy’s bike shop for the injuries to the child. Be sure to fully articulate all applicable legal principles, identifying the facts provided—or needed—to apply the law to the facts so as to justify your conclusion.

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There are two key facts that stand out in this case. The first is that the person involved in the accident in which the small child was injured was indeed an employee of Billy’s bike shop. This confirms that an employer-employee relationship existed between the two parties. The second fact is that although the employee diverted from the test drive by going to his home for lunch, the actual accident occurred when the employee was riding back to the shop. Consequently, under the legal doctrines of respondeat superior and negligent entrustment (Freeze, Johnson, Vollmar, White, Phillips & Yoss, n.d), it is Billy’s bike shop that bears the responsibility for the injuries to the child and not the employee.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is legally responsible for the actions of its employee provided that the employee was acting within the scope of employment. This implies that even though the employee made the decision to go home for lunch (which may not be within the scope of employment) while on the test drive, his employer is responsible because the accident occurred while he was going back to the shop....
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