Smith v. Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc.

540 So. 2d 363 (1989)

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Smith v. Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc.

Louisiana Court of Appeal
540 So. 2d 363 (1989)

Facts

Mary Smith (plaintiff) hired Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc. (Orkin) (defendant) to provide extermination services at her home. Orkin sent employee Vincent Johnson to Smith’s home in Louisiana. While spraying her home, Johnson formulated a plan to return and rape Smith, and he unlocked a window to facilitate his return. Johnson returned and raped Smith, who sustained personal injuries during the sexual assault. Smith filed suit for negligence against Orkin. Before Orkin hired Johnson in 1977, he was required to pass a polygraph test administered by Orkin. As an additional protective tool for Orkin and its customers, Orkin also required employees to pass yearly polygraph tests. Johnson took an annual polygraph in February 1982 and was permitted to continue working. However, Johnson was arrested for burglary, and he twice committed a rape of another of Orkin’s customers before taking the polygraph in February 1982. The questions on the initial screening polygraph asked about a prospective employee’s criminal history. However, the questions on the annual polygraph did not. Out of 74 questions, only six focused on an employee’s interactions with customers, and the rest focused on safeguarding Orkin instead of its customers. After Smith sued Orkin for negligence, a judge ruled in her favor, finding that but for Orkin’s own negligent administration of its annual polygraph test, Smith would not have been raped. Orkin appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Edwards, J.)

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