The case of Trayvon Martin demonstrates how something as seemingly innocuous as labeling a member of an association as the “Captain” of the neighborhood watch can open an association to possible liability.
Understanding how this designation in the association’s newsletter could ultimately lead to liability for the association can help HOA’s and Condominium Association’s limit their own potential liability for actions of others. . . . A well-established legal concept is respondeat superior, which literally means “let the master answer”. Respondeat superior provides the basis for a principal to be held responsible for the wrongful acts of their agent when those acts are performed within the scope of the agent’s duties.
While an employer-employee is the most common principal-agent relationship, with the employer being the principal and the employee their agent, an agency relationship can exist whenever someone acts on behalf of another. . . . The third element; the principal’s control over the actions of the agent, should not be overlooked. The general concept behind respondeat superior liability is that a principal generally controls their agent’s behavior, and therefore the principal should be responsible to the public for the agent’s actions while the agent is under the employer’s control.