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Carter v. Reynolds

November 02, 2001

DAVID CARTER AND DONNA CARTER, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
ALICE F. REYNOLDS AND STEVENS, FLUHR, CHISMAR, ALVINO & SCHECHTER, CPA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



On Appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, 3194-97.

Before Judges Braithwaite, Coburn, and Weissbard.

 The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weissbard, J.A.D.

As amended November 27, 2001.

DAVID CARTER AND DONNA CARTER, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
ALICE F. REYNOLDS AND STEVENS, FLUHR, CHISMAR, ALVINO & SCHECHTER, CPA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

On Appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, 3194-97.

Gercke, Dumser, Shoemaker & Sierzega, attorneys for appellant Stevens, Fluhr, Chismar, Alvino & Schechter (Mr. Dumser on the brief). Margolis, Edelstein, attorneys for appellant Alice F. Reynolds, joined in the brief of appellant Stevens, Fluhr, Chismar, Alvino & Schechter. Tomar, O'Brien, Kaplan, Jacoby & Graziano, attorneys for respondents (Alan H. Sklarsky on the brief).

Before Judges Braithwaite, Coburn, and Weissbard.

 The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weissbard, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 1, 2001

The doctrine known as respondeat superior has been said to be "one of the few anomalies to the general tort doctrine of no liability without fault." Fruit v. Schreiner, 502 P.2d 133, 139 (Alaska 1972). Here we must address, in a different factual context, the ground covered recently in several opinions of this court. See Pfender v. Torres, 336 N.J. Super. 379 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 167 N.J. 637 (2001); Mannes v. Healey, 306 N.J. Super. 351 (App. Div. 1997). The motion judge reversed an earlier ruling and granted partial summary judgment to plaintiffs David and Donna Carter, finding that defendant Alice F. Reynolds was acting within the scope of her employment for defendant Stevens, Fluhr, Chismar, Alvino & Schechter, CPA (Stevens), when she struck and injured David Carter while operating her automobile. We granted leave to appeal. Although our analysis differs from that of the motion judge, we agree with her conclusion and affirm.

The important facts are quite simple. On January 15, 1997, Reynolds was operating her 1992 Buick Regal when she was involved in a one-car accident that resulted in serious injuries to David Carter.*fn1 At the time of the accident, Carter was employed as a laborer foreman with Hinkels & McCoy, a utility construction company, working on Main Street in Belmar, installing gas services. As he walked around from the back of a construction truck to the road side, he was struck by Reynolds who was driving south on Main Street.

On the date of the accident, Reynolds was employed with the Stevens accounting firm as a part-time, nonprofessional employee.*fn2 Her job duties included verifying, checking, and preparing bank reconciliations, completing statistical and detail work, and preparing worksheets for the firm's accountants. Although Reynolds worked at the Stevens office in Neptune, where she had an assigned work space area, her job required her to make site visits to service clients and she was expected to use her own vehicle for those trips.

Reynolds spent approximately sixty to seventy percent of her work time at the Neptune office, and approximately twenty- five to thirty percent of her time at clients' offices. Her workday normally began at 9:00 a.m. and she was free to leave when she finished her work. However, generally, the firms' employees, including Reynolds, were expected to work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ...


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