Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Opinion Date: August 13, 2021
Judge: Steven M. Colloton
Areas of Law: Personal Injury
After the defendant injured the plaintiff while the defendant was driving a vehicle owned by the US Postal Service, the plaintiff filed suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and against the defendant for negligence under Missouri law. The district court dismissed the plaintiff’s federal claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s state-law claim against the defendant.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the plaintiff failed to establish that defendant was acting within the scope of his employment during the time of the accident under Missouri law. In this case, the Postal Service’s written policies support a finding that the defendant’s deviation from his postal route was unauthorized and the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant violated the Postal Service’s policies when he left his route for twenty-five minutes to purchase dog food for a friend, deliver the dog food at a location where he had already delivered mail, and take a break with his friend. Therefore, the defendant was not acting within the scope of his employment during the deviation, and the deviation was neither slight nor incidental. Finally, whether the defendant’s conduct was within the scope of his employment is unrelated to the merits question of whether his conduct was negligent. The court explained that the scope of employment in FTCA cases is a threshold jurisdictional question for the court, rather than the jury, to decide.
This case law update is brought to you by Freeway Law auto accident and personal injury lawyers in Orange County. The following is not one of our cases, but it is of some significance, and we thought we should share it with our readers for informational purposes. The information above is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.