A man could hold an insurance agency responsible after an
employee with an arrest record allegedly took his contact information from a
confidential database and shared it with her boyfriend, who used it to
intimidate him, the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently ruled.
Two years before the incident, the employee, Danielle
Burgos, had faced federal weapons charges that were resolved without a
conviction after she completed a diversion program. At that time she had been
working for a car insurance agency for several years, and she continued to work
for the company afterward.
At some point, the employee’s boyfriend, Daniel Thomas, was
fleeing from the police in her vehicle and hit the vehicle of a man named Michael
Afterward, Burgos used her employee access to access her own
insurer’s database and discovered Adams had filed a claim. She then apparently
shared Adams’s contact information with her boyfriend, who called Adams and
made violent threats in an effort to get him to drop the claim.
When the agency discovered what Burgos had done, it fired
her. But Adams sued the agency for negligently hiring and retaining her and
failing to properly supervise her.
A lower court judge tossed out his claim, ruling that the
particular crime Burgos had been charged with (and for which she was never
convicted) shouldn’t have suggested to her employer that she was unfit to
handle sensitive, confidential information.
But the Appeals Court reversed, finding that the employer’s
failure to investigate Burgos’s assurances that the federal charges were just a
misunderstanding that wouldn’t affect her ability to do her job should have
been enough to allow Adams’s lawsuit to go to a jury.