Hass v. WentzlaffAnnotate this Case
Defendant Paul Wentzlaff, an insurance agent, stole thousands of dollars from Harvey Severson, an elderly man who asked Defendant to help manage his financial affairs. Plaintiff Donald Hass, as personal representative for Severson’s estate, sued Defendant and two insurance companies who appointed Defendant as an agent, North American Company for Life and Health Insurance (North American) and Allianz Life Insurance of North America (Allianz). Hass and North American each moved for summary judgment and Allianz joined North American’s motion. After a hearing, the circuit court denied Plaintiff's motion and granted the insurance companies’ motion. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the insurance companies were vicariously liable for Defendant's acts. Based on undisputed material facts on the record in this case, the Supreme Court found that Defendant Wentzlaff was not acting within the scope of his employment when he stole money from Severson, and thus, as a matter of law, North American and Allianz were not vicariously liable for his acts. The Court affirmed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the insurance companies.