Purton v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., 218 Cal. App. 4th 499 (2013)

In December 2009, the Marriott Del Mar Hotel held its annual holiday party as a “thank you” to its employees and management. Marriott did not require its employees to attend the party. Michael Landri was employed as a bartender at the hotel. Landri, who did not work on the day of the party, drank a beer and a shot of Jack Daniel’s whiskey at home before arriving at the party; Landri took a flask to the party, which he estimated held about five ounces, filled to some degree with whiskey. Landri re-filled his flask with more whiskey from the bar at least once (but possibly more than once) during the party. At approximately 9:00 p.m., Landri left the party and drove (or was driven) home. Landri did not drink any more after leaving the party. After arriving home safely, Landri decided to get back on the road to drive another intoxicated co-worker to the co-worker’s house. During the second trip, Landri (who had a blood alcohol level of 0.16) drove over 100 miles per hour and rear-ended Dr. Jared Purton’s vehicle, killing Dr. Purton. The trial court granted Marriott’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that Landri was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, but the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, holding that “a trier of fact could conclude the party and drinking of alcoholic beverages benefitted Marriott by improving employee morale and furthering employer-employee relations… [and] that Landri was acting within the scope of his employment while ingesting alcoholic beverages at the party.” The fact that Landri had arrived home safely before venturing out again did not cut off Marriott’s liability as a matter of law. Compare Rayii v. Gatica, 2013 WL 4446778 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013) (judgment affirmed where jury determined negligent driver was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.