On July 18, 2010, Rohan Brijall went to a casino in Atlantic City. While there, Brijall began smoking in an area that was designated as a non-smoking area. Mamadi Camara, a casino security guard, approached Brijall and told him to put out his cigarette. The two began arguing, and Brijall alleged he was forced to the ground and detained by Camara and two other security guards. While on the ground, Brijall alleged Camara struck him in the head with his foot and either his fist or radio. Brijall sustained injuries as a result of the altercation. Camara was suspended and then terminated.
Brijall sued the casino for assault, battery, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent training. He argued that the casino was liable for injuries caused by Camara under a theory of respondeat superior.
The casino filed a motion for summary judgment, based on Camara’s lack of a criminal history and previous non-violent work conduct. The casino’s point was that it had no reason to believe that Camara would act violently toward Brijall. Further, the casino argued that Camara was not acting within the scope of his employment because the casino’s policy forbade physical restraint of patrons.
The Court’s Decision
The court ruled the following:
(1) the casino was entitled to receive a summary judgment to dismiss Brijall’s claims for negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent training.
(2) the casino was not entitled to receive a summary judgment to dismiss Brijall’s claim that Camara was acting within the scope of employment.
(3) a jury must decide whether Camara was acting in the scope of his employment.
(4) there was no evidence which could have permitted the casino to reasonably foresee that Camara posed a risk of harming a patron.
This case illustrates that an employer may face liability for tortuous actions caused by security guards who in the course of their duties violate company policy and injure patrons.
Brijall v. Harrah’s Atlantic City, No. 11-0629, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, November 20, 2012.