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Employers liable for murder

Pennsylvania residents may be interested in a case involving Home Depot and one of its employees. On April 26, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit denied Home Depot's request to reconsider its decision. This opens the company up to wrongful death lawsuit by the surviving family of one of its former employees. It also sets an important precedent regarding how companies may be held liable for the negligent or reckless acts of their employees.

The case involves the murder of a pregnant Home Depot employee by her supervisor at an offsite event. According to reports, the supervisor in question had a history of harassment against female employees and the woman in question. The supervisor was sentenced in 2014 to two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.

Home Depot argued the company could not have known that the supervisor's verbal harassment would lead to murder. The murder also took place off of the premises and did not use any company property such as a tool or vehicle to commit the crime. The court, however, drew an important distinction in this case. While the supervisor may not have used any physical tool to commit the crime, he did use the power given to him by Home Depot as a supervisor. He had the ability to exert control over the woman by threats of firing to force the employee to join him at the offsite event.

This case serves as an important example of how the law may define responsibility for a death when companies are involved. The question of who to target in a wrongful death lawsuit is an important legal decision to discuss with an attorney.

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