Court Rules Company Not Liable for Employee’s E-mail Threats

December 18, 2006

  • December 18, 2006 at 1:00 am
    Jerry P. Sutheridge says:
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    An Agilent Technologies employee uses the company\’s email system to threaten people and the company is not liable for the severe emotional harm those people are made to suffer!?

    Well, as a big business employer this may be a good ruling but as a family man with children I think it is terribly unfair and from that point of view I think that Agilent Technologies should be punished for allowing one of its employees to break the law and cause innocent people to suffer.

    Thank the Lord I do not live in California!

  • December 18, 2006 at 1:10 am
    Wes says:
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    What about the rights of innocent companies, Jerry? No state in the nation holds an employer responsible for actions of employees who are not in the course and scope of their employment.
    Thank the Lord you\’re not on the Court of Appeals.

  • December 18, 2006 at 1:18 am
    Alan says:
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    Mr. Delfino\’s & Ms. Day\’s complaint should be against Mr. Moore. The company did not appear to do anything wrong. From a business stand point they should have moved to limit Mr. Moore\’s actions as it could create negative views of the company, but they should not be liable for Mr. Moore\’s actions.

    Alan. (Yes I live in California)

  • December 18, 2006 at 3:16 am
    KLS says:
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    Mr. Moore is the only person responsible for the actions of Mr. Moore.

    I think the plaintiffs named the company as a defendant because presumably the company has deeper pockets than the individual. Just my humble opinion.

  • December 18, 2006 at 3:37 am
    KLR says:
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    Jerry, you may not like big companies, but the legal system got it right in this case. If someone takes a letter opener off their desk at work, and kills someone with it on their lunch hour, you should not hold the company liable, deep pockets or not. This case is a perfect example of two things I can\’t stand, no personal resonsibility, and petty, frivolous lawsuits.

  • December 18, 2006 at 3:48 am
    Lynne says:
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    I read the opinion and for one thing, a trial court awarded Day and Delfino $1,100,103.94 for their intentional infliction of severe emotional distress claim so they did pretty well if you ask me. As for Agilent Technologies from what I have read in several newspaper articles now, Day and Delfino are appealing this ruling to the Calif Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court if necessary and I think their chances for review are pretty good.

  • December 18, 2006 at 6:52 am
    Michael, UC Davis Law School says:
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    Lynne,
    I think what you meant to say is that the trial court in Delfino and Day vs. Moore awarded them over $1M.

    I do agree with you that Agilent Technologies cant\’t be too happy to hear that their case is going to the Supremes even if the odds of review are not high. You can bet that no billion dollar company needs this kind of publicity even if they ultimately prevail in the end. Agilent should have settled this litigation for a reasonable amount when it first began even if they thought they were right. There\’s no mileage in playing this kind of game.

  • December 19, 2006 at 7:45 am
    Bulldogg says:
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    Thank you Michael, spoken like a true blood sucking, ambulance chasing leach, I mean lawyer. I get the two confused because they both latch on at that first sight of blood…

    That\’s what the attornies wanted, a quick settlement from the company, equal to \”hush money\”, pay us off and it all goes away.

    GOD bless Agilent for standing up for what\’s right and fighting off the blood suckers and the \”sue everyone\” crowd…

  • December 19, 2006 at 9:13 am
    ernie says:
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    I have to agree w//Bulldogg. In the long run, offering settlements in frivilous or groundless lawsuits just encourages more lawsuits.
    I\’m sure if it was an employee of this plaintiff\’s attorney, he\’d be denying any liability.

  • December 19, 2006 at 9:46 am
    Mjolnir says:
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    In the thread discussing Wal~Marts settlement it has become clear that because WM settled the assumption is that they were guilty. I too believe that Agilent made the right choice, and I think they will be fine on appeal. Someone they employed used their system to commit a crime. That doesn\’t make Agilent resonsible, and so they shouldn\’t have to pay money to make it go away. I understand that the legal defense is costing them money, but at least no one will just assume they are guilty of something because they settled.

  • December 19, 2006 at 10:32 am
    BarryL says:
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    Get real. Civil lawsuits are about money. If you are sued you either pay money to make it go away or you pay money to litigate and hope it goes away. Early settlements keep your \”dirty laundry\” out of the press and if Agilent Technologies was smart they would have tried to settle this suit early and not get this kind of bad publicity about one of their employees getting arrested by the Feds. Going to the Supreme Court on a high profile case like this is just not good business. It\’s distracting for employees. It\’s expensive for business. It\’s just plain dumb.

  • December 19, 2006 at 11:35 am
    Mjolnir says:
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    BarryL- Your opinion would be true… if everyone viewed this as bad press, and if it were only \”about the money\”. Some of us view it as good press, and apparently Agilent is more worried about public perception and future liabilities than hiding \”dirty laundry\”.

    So much for the universality of your position and opinion.

    Shocking thought- maybe Agilent can do simple math. Maybe they know it costs them more to defend than it would to settle. Maybe they don\’t care. Maybe, to Agilent, it\’s about MORE THAN MONEY.

    Maybe not everyone in the world cares about money alone.

  • December 19, 2006 at 12:05 pm
    BarryL says:
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    Good press?
    Did you actually read the opinion?
    I don\’t think so. If I were an employee at Agilent Technologies I would not be too happy to learn that I was working with someone (a terrorist?) who was emailing death threats from work and that when contacted by the FBI, the company basically did nothing to stop one of their employees from breaking the law because they seemingly knew they could hide behind this legal loophole once they got caught. I guess we\’ll all see how this good press plays out as the case moves on through the courts but I think Agilent made a big mistake exposing it\’s dirty laundry.

  • December 21, 2006 at 6:52 am
    John says:
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    Personally, since I work in the litigation world as an investigator, I am glad to see this work out this way. It is about time the courts decided that holding a company respoonsible for all of the actions of an employee stopped. It drives up the cost of insurance for all of us that dpo business.
    Besides, there is only so much supervision you can do on an employee without getting sued for violating their rights.
    Additionally, many of the large companies are starting to adopt a practice of working with Law Enforcement and letting these kinds of cases go public in order rather than trying to hide them. It is no longer such a stigma as it used to be when a company is wronged by one of their employees. I applaud them for their willingness to stand the scrutiny tell the lawyers to suck it up and find a legitimate case to work on. It is time for people to realize thay have to deal with the reality of life and learn that it is not always some one\’s fault other than a bad person doing bad things.



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