Louisiana Appeal Courts Prohibit Direct Negligence Claims Against Employer; US District Court Uses Rule to Limit Discovery

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal recently ruled that a Plaintiff is prohibited from maintaining a direct negligence claim (negligent hire, negligent supervision, etc.) against an employer when the defendant/employer admits the employee was in the course and scope of the employment, stating:

“(A) plaintiff cannot maintain a direct negligence claim, such as negligent hiring, training, supervision, etc., against an employer, while simultaneously maintaining a claim against the negligent employee for which the plaintiff seeks to hold the employer vicariously liable, after the employer had admitted that the employee was in the course and scope of employment at the time of the alleged conduct.” See Elee v. White, – – So. 3d – – (La. App. 1 Cir 7/24/20) 2020 WL 4251974.

The ruling in Elee  joins the Louisiana 5th Circuit court of appeal which entered a similar ruling. See Landry v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburg, 289 So.3d 177 (La. App. 5 Cir. 12/30/19).

Meanwhile, the federal courts in Louisiana, under the Erie doctrine, reached differing results. In Thomas v. Chambers, 2019 WL 1670745 (E.D. La. 2019)(Vance, J.) and Dennis v. Collins, 2016 WL 6637973 (W.D. La. 2016 (Hicks, J.), the District Courts acknowledged the holding outlined above. However, Judge Cain, sitting in the Lake Charles division of the Western District ruled to the contrary. See Roe v. Safety National, 18-cv-1353 (W.D. La. 2020).

But, what happens when the defendants further admit sole fault for the accident? The result was discussed in Ferguson v. Lenoir et al. Notably, Magistrate Judge Hornsby, ruling on defendants’ request for a protective order, found that defendants admission of fault eliminated the need to reconcile the different rulings when it found that “(no) evidence of (employer’s) negligent hiring, training, supervision or entrustment can raise (employer’s) percentage of fault above 100.” See Case 5:17-cv-01570-SMH-MLH Document 90 Filed 06/30/20 (p 2 of 6). As a natural consequence of this rule, the court recognized that a protective order limiting further discovery was appropriate. Plaintiff appealed the magistrate’s Order, but US District Judge Hicks denied Plaintiff’s appeal and affirmed Judge Hornsby’s ruling. Case 5:17-cv-01570-SMH-MLH Document 122 Filed 09/22/20.


John has been practicing over 30 years and is a Senior Partner with firm where he serves on the Management Committee. He has devoted attention to non-profit boards dedicated to assisting at risk children. He enjoys time with his three children and grandchildren. He also enjoys tennis and hiking.