If an employee high on drugs assaulted my wife, do we have a claim against the store?

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If an employee high on drugs assaulted my wife, do we have a claim against the store?

My wife went to our local grocery store and while at the cash register an employee who was high on drugs came behind her and first grabbed her butt. She screamed and the cashier said that’s just “X” he’s been doing that. She hastily grabbed her things and he came behind her again and put his hand in her shirt and grabbed her breast skin and walked out. The employee’s did not help her or let her use the phone; the police were called and they took him away in an ambulance. Also, 2 other women reported being grabbed but hers was the worst. No apology or anything else as been heard from the store. Should we speak to a personal injury attorney? In Jackson County, MO.

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Personal Injury, Missouri


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney.  The problem your wife will have in filing a claim against the store is that assault and battery committed by the employee are intentional acts.

An employer is liable for the negligence of an employee which occurs during the course and scope of employment.  This liability does NOT include intentional acts because intentional acts are not within the course and scope of employment.  Therefore, the store's insurance carrier will probably deny liability.  Your wife may have a claim against the store for negligent hiring of this employee if the store hired him knowing that he was a drug user and if the store did nothing to fire him after he had assaulted other women in the store

Assault and battery are both civil (lawsuit) and criminal matters.  Your wife could sue the employee for assault and battery.  Her lawsuit should have separate causes of action (claims) (one for assault and one for battery).

Assault is intentionally placing one in reasonable apprehension of an immediate battery without consent or legal privilege.

Battery is the intentional harmful and offensive touching of another without consent or legal privilege.

Your wife will need to file her lawsuit for assault and battery against the store employee prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or she will lose her rights forever in the matter.

The criminal case for assault and battery is separate from the civil case for assault and battery.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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