An employee of an insurance broker was required each workday to drive to and from the office in her personal vehicle. During the workday, the employee had to use her vehicle to visit prospective clients, make presentations, provide educational seminars, follow leads, and transport company materials and coemployees to work-related destinations.
On April 15, 2010, the employee left the office at the end of the workday and began driving in the direction of her home. She had decided that, on the way, she would stop for some frozen yogurt and take a yoga class. As the employee made a left turn at the yogurt shop, she collided with a motorcyclist.
Because the employer required the employee to use her personal vehicle to travel to and from the office and make other work-related trips during the day, the employee was acting within the scope of her employment when she was commuting to and from work. The planned stops for frozen yogurt and a yoga class on the way home did not change the incidental benefit to the employer of having the employee use her personal vehicle to travel to and from the office and other destinations. On the day of the accident, the employee had used her vehicle to transport herself and some coemployees to an employer-sponsored program, and the employee had planned to use her vehicle the next day to drive to a prospective client‘s place of business. Nor did the planned stops constitute an unforeseeable, substantial departure from the employee‘s commute. Rather, they were a foreseeable, minor deviation. Finally, the planned stops were not so unusual or startling that it would be unfair to include the resulting loss among the other costs of the employer‘s business. Thus, under the required vehicle exception to the going and coming rule, the employee was acting within the scope of her employment at the time of the accident, and the doctrine of respondeat superior applies. Accordingly, the trial court erred in granting the employer‘s summary judgment motion