Second Circuit Rejects Opportunity to Limit Application of Vicarious Liability Doctrine to Corporate Criminal Defendants

February 04, 2009
The application of the respondeat superior doctrine, which attributes to employers the illegal acts of employees acting “within the scope of their employment,” has long been a fixture of tort law, despite criticism by scholars and members of the bench and bar that such liability is unjust when applied in the criminal context. In United States v. Ionia Management S.A., the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected an invitation to limit application of the doctrine to corporate criminal defendants. This update reviews the Second Circuit’s ruling and the ongoing debate regarding the respondeat superior doctrine.