California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3700. Introduction

A [person/partnership/corporation] is responsible for harm caused by the wrongful conduct of [his/her/its] [employees/agents/ [insert other relationship, e.g., "partners"]] while acting within the scope of their [employment/authority].

Sources and Authority

Under the theory of respondeat superior, a principal/employer is vicariously liable for an agent/employee's torts committed within the scope of agency/employment. (Perez v. Van Groningen & Sons, Inc. (1986) 41 Cal.3d 962, 967 [227 Cal.Rptr. 106, 719 P.2d 676].)

If a principal's potential liability is based solely on the acts of his or her agent, then the principal cannot be held liable if the agent is exonerated. (2 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed. 1987) Agency and Employment, § 116, p. 111.)

Liability may result from a principal's authorization or direction to perform a tortious act, resulting in direct liability of the principal for his or her wrongful conduct. (2 Witkin, supra, § 113, p. 107.) Such authorization may be found in ratification of the agent's conduct and in delegation of a nondelegable duty.

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1987) Agency and Employment, §§ 113-117

1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 8, Vicarious Liability, §§ 8.03-8.04 (Matthew Bender)

2 California Employment Law, Ch. 30, Employers' Tort Liability to Third Parties for Conduct of Employees, § 30.01 (Matthew Bender)

21 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 248, Employer's Liability for Employee's Torts, § 248.11 (Matthew Bender)

37 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 427, Principal and Agent (Matthew Bender)

10 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 100, Employer and Employee (Matthew Bender)

1 Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice (1992) Torts, §§ 3:1-3:4

(New September 2003)