Drunk driver on his way home from work: Is company liable?

Fact One: The company had a strict policy that forbade employees from drinking on the job. Fact Two: It was generally known throughout the plant that Maintenance Department Utility Man Karl Blayman was a heavy drinker. One day at 5:15 p.m.


Fact One: The company had a strict policy that forbade employees from drinking on the job.

Fact Two: It was generally known throughout the plant that Maintenance Department Utility Man Karl Blayman was a heavy drinker.

One day at 5:15 p.m., Blayman, on his way home from work, struck Mrs. Anna Frump, a pedestrian, causing serious injury to her legs and other parts of her body. A breathalizer test at the scene determined that Blayman was drunk at the time. A week later, the company's president received a letter from Frump's attorney advising that his client was suing the company on the grounds that it was negligent in allowing Blayman to leave the plant and drive home while intoxicated.

The letter was turned over to Plant Engineer Frank Markwell. Markwell summoned Blayman's boss, Maintenance Supervisor Al Stiglitz, to his office and showed him the letter.

Stiglitz shook his head sadly. "It was just fifteen minutes after he clocked out. I suppose Blayman must have been drunk on the job. But heck, Frank, I can't watch every employee every minute of the day. If I knew he was drunk, I would have tried to get someone to drive him home, or have done it myself. Maybe the guard should have detected it when he clocked out, but he apparently didn't."

Question : What do you think? Is the company liable?

Expert's opinion: Markwell consulted company attorney John Somners regarding the incident.

Somners said, "In most cases like this I can recall the company was only held responsible under the doctrine of 'host liability' if it was the provider of the liquor that caused the drunkenness. At a Christmas party, for example.

"I might add that this only stresses the importance of department heads' responsibility in monitoring their people closely on the one hand, treating alcoholism as a disease on the other, and finally, taking a tough approach on the possession of alcohol at work, and on employees who come to work or return from lunch in an intoxicated state."

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
2017 Top Plant winner, Best practices, Plant Engineering at 70, Top 10 stories of 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Setting internal automation standards
Knowing how and when to use parallel generators
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me