The suit claims that "CNN knew Damon had a history of becoming drunk and abusive, and had a penchant for violence, even when sober." Damon apologized for her behavior via email to the staff of the US Embassy. She claimed that the alcohol she drank was magnified by the fact she hadn't eaten.
The big question that we've been asked is this:
"Why is CNN responsible for Arwa Damon's behavior? If she was 'off the clock,' why should CNN be responsible for her actions?"
That is a great question. The simple answer is that when someone is hired as an employee (sometimes even if the employee is used on a contract basis), a relationship exists that is known as the principal and agent relationship. It is important that both employers and employees understand the basics of this relationship and how it works.
The principal is any person who has the legal capacity to perform an act. This includes individuals, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and even government agencies. The principal, in this case, is CNN. CNN is Damon's employer. They sent her to Baghdad to act on their behalf.
An agent is any person who is legally capable of performing an act on behalf of the principal. In this case, the agent is Damon. She is CNN's employee. Damon went to Baghdad on behalf of CNN.
A relationship exists in which Damon went to Baghdad to carry out a particular act on behalf of CNN. Damon had an obligation to act in an appropriate manner. Essentially, she had a duty to not act in a negligent or improper manner during the time she was in Baghdad to complete her assignment. Agents generally cannot perform acts that are not expressly authorized or implied. Agents should use reasonable care and skill. An agent should not put themselves into a position that creates a conflict between the interests of the agent and the principal.
CNN has a duty as a principal to compensate their agent as agreed and to offer some amount of protection for the agent in the instance of claims or liabilities. That is the primary reason why CNN is a named defendant. They sent Damon on the corporation's behalf to perform a certain action. Damon allegedly bit people while highly intoxicated.
Do you think CNN will work to settle this lawsuit? What do you think should happen to Arwa Damon?
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