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Supreme Court
Case of the Month
November 2006

Case Overview

Ronnie Armstrong and Tillie Armstrong, Petitioners, v.
Food Lion, Inc. Respondent. 1

The Armstrongs were attacked by two Food Lion employees while shopping in a Food Lion store in Winnsboro. They filed a lawsuit against the two employees and Food Lion in the circuit court in Fairfield County, alleging assault, battery, outrage, and negligent hiring, training and retention of the two employees. The Armstrongs alleged Food Lion was vicariously liable, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, for its employees’ conduct. The two employees did not appear for trial and the court entered default judgments against them. After the Armstrongs presented their case, the trial judge granted Food Lion’s motion for a directed verdict on the vicarious liability claims. He found there was no evidence that the attack occurred within the course and scope of the employees’ employment or in furtherance of Food Lion’s business. However, the negligent supervision claim was submitted to the jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Food Lion on the claim.

The Armstrongs filed an appeal in the South Carolina Court of Appeals alleging the trial judge erred in directing a verdict for Food Lion on the Armstrongs’ claim that Food Lion was vicariously liable for the acts of its employees. In the Court of Appeals, the Armstrongs were the appellants and Food Lion was the respondent. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s decision.

The Armstrongs filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court asking the Court to review the Court of Appeals’ decision. The Supreme Court granted the petition, after which the parties submitted briefs. The Armstrongs are the petitioners and Food Lion is the respondent. The Armstrongs argue there was evidence that the employees were acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the attack; therefore, the trial judge should not have directed a verdict on the claim of vicarious liability and instead should have allowed it to be considered by the jury.


1 The terms that are emphasized in this summary are terms you may wish to have your students look up before observing oral argument.


Case Briefs

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Brief of Petitioners (315 kb)
Reply Brief of Petitioners (175 kb)

Respondent's Final Brief (432 kb)

 


Oral Arguments

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(58 minutes playing time)