DALTON REB HUGHES ET AL. v. THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE ET AL. (Tenn. May 24, 2011)
After being injured when he jumped out of the path of a front-end loader owned by a governmental entity and operated by its employee, the plaintiff filed suit, claiming that the employee either was negligent in his operation of the equipment or had acted intentionally and that the governmental entity was liable under the Governmental Tort Liability Act. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiff against the governmental entity and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
The governmental entity sought permission to appeal, arguing first that the employee had acted outside the scope of his employment and, secondly, that he had committed an assault against the plaintiff, either of which would preclude liability under the Act. Although we hold that the employee's conduct fell within the scope of his employment, his operation of the equipment constituted the intentional tort of assault rather than negligence. The governmental entity cannot, therefore, be held liable under the Act absent proof of its negligent supervision. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed as to the governmental entity, and the cause is remanded to the trial court for entry of judgment against the employee.
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