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Roger, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Coleman works for Software Inc., a Delaware based corporation

Resolved Question:

Coleman works for Software Inc., a Delaware based corporation that sells security equipment to businesses and bars. Coleman’s duties include traveling to prospective clients and meeting with representatives of the businesses in his sales division.

Coleman is on the road more than half the year. He often does not come home for more than a few days at a time. Over the course of his 17 years of employment with Software Inc., Coleman has had several stretches on the road that last three months or more.

During a sales trip to Smalltown, Colorado in March 2008, Coleman found it necessary to wash his laundry. He also wanted to buy an anniversary present for his wife. Coleman went to the mall to buy the present. While at the mall, Coleman saw a ring that he really liked but could not afford. He decided to steal it. He then went to Jimmy’s Poor-Man’s Bar to meet with a client, John. Jimmy’s wasn’t a client of Coleman’s, but John didn’t like his customers to see him “doing business.”

Coleman was talking with Jimmy about business when he spilled his drink all over the bar. That made him think about this cool trick where you put pure grain alcohol in your mouth, blow it out and light it. Coleman took a big drink, took out his lighter, and said, “What this!” He lit his lighter, blew the liquid and a fireball went through the room. The fireball hit Jimmy and killed him instantly. The bar also sustained a lot of damage. Software Inc. fired Coleman without even interviewing him to get his version of the events.

Software Inc.’s handbook required all employees to be interviewed before termination. A week later, Coleman called John to make amends. When they met, Coleman said, "The company and I are so sorry about what happened. Let me take you out to dinner – Software Inc. will pay the bill."

They went to a restaurant, and instantly got into an argument because John told Coleman he was fat. Coleman punched John in the eye, causing severe eye damage.

Jimmy’s mother (his only heir), John, and Jimmy’s Poor-Man’s Bar (which was owned by five men, including Jimmy), sued Software Inc. for the damage caused by Coleman. Coleman sues Software Inc. 0for wrongful termination. Lastly, the jewelry store sued Software Inc. for the value of the ring.

Factual Summary: provide a succinct and accurate description of the scenario at hand. Summarize the scenario to include all relevant facts.

Issue(s): Restatement or summarize the question. What is the legal question(s) that you are going to answer?

Legal Concept(s): Identify and discuss 1 or more legal concepts from the course material when exploring the problem at hand. Define the legal concept(s) and explain how the concept(s) relates to the given scenario.

Analysis/Conclusion: Analyze the factual scenario in relation to the legal concept in order to reach a well-reasoned conclusion. Be sure to apply the legal concept correctly toward solving the legal issue.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Roger replied 5 years ago.

Hi -


The suit filed against Software, Inc. by Jimmy's mother, John and the Bar should be dismissed on several grounds. First, Coleman was not acting within the course and scope of his employment by drinking and blowing a ball of fire. Secondly, an employer is not responsible for the criminal actions of its employee as that is an intervening cause that the employer cannot control.


As for the wrongful termination claim of Coleman, it should not be sustainable because wrongful termination must be based on discrimination because of race, sex, age, disability or religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, if the employer terminated Coleman without an interview, he could sue for breach of contract (employment contract) or breach of the policies and procedures of the company.


As for the jewelry store, it cannot hold Software, Inc. liable for Coleman's actions because they were also outside of the scope of employment and involved a criminal act for which it has not liability.

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