JANINE CANNIZZARO v. STEPHAN MARINYAK et al., SC 19101

Judicial District of Fairfield

 

          Negligent Supervision; Whether Employer Owed Duty of Care to Third Party Injured by Off-duty Employee Who Consumed Alcohol on Employer’s Premises.  Stephan Marinyak was hired by Diane Jennings Mayo to perform renovation work at her home.  While at the work site, Marinyak and other workers regularly consumed alcohol.  Shortly after leaving the work site in an intoxicated state, Marinyak was involved in an automobile accident that severely injured the plaintiff.  The plaintiff brought this action claiming, among other things, that Mayo was negligent in failing to supervise Marinyak’s consumption of alcohol while he was working on her premises.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Mayo on the ground that she owed no duty of care to the plaintiff.  On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that, because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Mayo had constructive knowledge of Marinyak’s consumption of alcohol on her premises, summary judgment should not have been granted on her negligent supervision claim.  The Appellate Court (139 Conn. App. 722) observed that, although the general rule is that a person has no legal duty to protect a third party from another person’s tortious conduct, public policy justifies the imposition of such a duty for certain special relationships, such as that of an employer and employee.  The court emphasized, however, that an employer’s duty to protect a third party from the tortious conduct of an employee committed outside the scope of employment only arises when that conduct occurs on the employer’s premises.  Since Marinyak’s tortious conduct of driving while intoxicated occurred off Mayo’s premises, the court concluded that Mayo, as a matter of law, had no duty to protect the plaintiff.  In light of that conclusion, the court determined that it was immaterial whether Mayo was negligent in failing to supervise Marinyak’s consumption of alcohol while he was on her premises.  The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of Mayo.