Firm News

No Vicarious Liability

Joel Wright and Donna M. Young obtained summary judgment dismissal of all claims against their client in Doe v. XYZ LLC in King County Superior Court. Defendant company licensed its trademarked program for treating persons with sexual additions to a therapist. Years later, plaintiffs alleged that the therapist engaged in a romantic and sexual relationship with a female patient. Even though the plaintiffs had not participated in the trademarked program, they argued that the licensing relationship made defendant company vicariously liable for the therapist’s malpractice, citing out-of-jurisdiction case law. Donna argued the court should follow Washington decisions holding an employer is not vicariously liable for a therapist’s actions motivated by sexual gratification. The Court accepted Donna’s argument that there was no just reason to make an exception to the rule against vicarious liability, for agent’s acts for personal sexual gratification, simply because the agent is a licensed therapist. The court rejected the broad interpretation of vicarious liability discussed in Simmons, and held that Washington’s rule on vicarious liability applies regardless of the nature of the profession of the agent engaged in tortious sexual relations.

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