Case Study: Davis v. The Board of County Commissioners of Doña Ana County
Dr. Patricia Drain
Business Employment Law
January 24, 2011
1. What was the legal issue in this case?
In the opinion of Judge Richard C. Bosson, the legal issue in this case was to, “…decide whether an employer owes prospective employers and foreseeable third persons a duty of reasonable care not to misrepresent material facts in the course of making an employment recommendation about a former employee (in this case, Joseph “Tinie” Herrera), when a substantial risk of physical harm to third persons (in this case, Mariah C. Davis, Plaintiff-Appellant) by the employee is foreseeable” (Walsh, 2010). Former supervisors at the Doña Ana County Detention Center (Frank Steele, Director and Al Mochen, Captain & Assistant Director), gave positive endorsements of Herrera to the Mesilla Valley Hospital (MVH) who hired him as a mental health technician after he resigned from the Detention Center. The Plaintiff alleged that MVH’s decision to hire Herrera was based on misinformation provided by Steele and Mochen. 2. Why does the court conclude that Doña Ana County could be held liable for negligent referral (misrepresentation)? According to Mann (2000), “The Court of Appeals held that when the county law enforcement officers (Steele and Mochen) undertook to provide an employment reference, they owed a duty not to make negligent misrepresentations to the subsequent employer, and that this duty extended to the patient, if a substantial risk of physical harm to a third person was foreseeable (p. 2). The Court of Appeals made it very clear that although a former employer is not required to provide an employment reference (they can remain silent), but if she or he chooses to provide one, they have a duty to provide the facts about that person. Since Steele provided a signed written statement, not only omitting references about Herrera’s...