Attorney Karen Kay Recognized for Supreme Court Victory

The Washington State Association for Justice Amicus Program recently recognized Attorney Karen M. Kay with the Law Offices of Harold D. Carr for a case that she argued and won in front of the Washington State Supreme Court.

The case of Rahman v. State of Washington holds the State accountable for the acts acts of an employee that cause injury to a passenger in a state vehicle even though the passenger was not authorized to be in the vehicle.

Ms. Rahman was a passenger in a state vehicle driven by her husband.  Her husband was a state employee, but Ms. Rahman was not.  The employee manual prohibited non-employees from riding in State vehicles.  Ms. Rahman was an unauthorized passenger in the State’s view.  As they were driving, Ms. Rahman was injured when her husband caused an accident.

Ms. Rahman hired the Law Offices of Harold Carr to represent her.  A claim was made against the State for her injuries, but the state denied the claim stating that because unauthorized passengers were not allowed according to the employee manual, Mr. Rahman was in violation of the terms of his employment and therefore not acting in furtherance of the State’s interest at the time of the accident.

After a partial summary judgment was entered against Ms. Rahman, she appealed.  The Court of Appeals Divison II ruled in favor of Ms. Rahman.  The State requested that the issue be heard by the Supreme Court of the State of Washington. The state argued that Ms. Rahman’s presence in the vehicle was in violation of the rules and therefore Mr. Rahman was not acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident so the State was not responsible for his actions.

Attorney Karen Kay argued on behalf of Ms. Rahman that the state is liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability (an entity is liable for the negligent act of its employees) and that liability cannot be disclaimed by a provision buried in a large employee manual.  If they could it would open the door to employers disclaiming liability for any action by the employee that was prohibited in the employee rule book.  This would have the result of businesses avoiding liability in virtually all circumstances.

The Washington State Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in favor of Ms. Rahman and Attorney Karen Kay along with the WSAJ Amicus Program and held that the state was vicariously liable for the acts of its employee that caused injury to Ms. Rahman, even though she was an unauthorized passenger.

Not only was Ms. Kay recognized by the WSAJ Amicus Program for her achievement, but her result was also listed as one of the most significant cases in the last 37 years.

Congratulations to Ms. Kay on her great achievement in the face of an up-hill battle!  Her dedication has helped to preserve individual rights of injury victims in Washington State.

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