Frazier v. Badger

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Frazier, a middle school teacher, alleged that Badger, the assistant principal, sexually harassed her. When she rejected his advances, he allegedly had her classroom moved to the basement. The jury found that Badger’s conduct met the elements of the tort of outrage and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The South Carolina Supreme Court, in assessing the new issues brought before it, held that Badger did not get to claim governmental immunity. Under South Carolina law, governmental immunity would be provided to a governmental employee who commits a tort while acting in the scope of his official duty. The court held that sexual advances do not fall within the scope of official duties. It looked at the phrase “scope of employment,” used in insurance policies, and found that it had previously concluded that 13 is not within the “scope of employment.” Since “scope of official duties” is a phrase construed more narrowly than “scope of employment,” it concluded that 13 could not fall under the “scope of official duties.” The court found that Frazier’s testimony that Badger began making sexual advances towards her years before, when he was her high school basketball coach, did not warrant a mistrial. The court also held that Frazier did not have to file a 13 claim; it was permissible to file an outrage claim. The court rejected Badger’s argument that the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the jury’s punitive damage award, noting that “a defendant’s inability to pay does not prohibit a jury from awarding punitive damages.”



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