Written by: Bryce M. Addison
On a recent case of first impression before the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Court held in Bolden v. Tisdale, No. 21-cc-00224 (La. 01/28/22), that the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not enter into an employment relationship with New Orleans area law enforcement officers merely by requesting the local jurisdiction provide a law enforcement motorcade to escort team buses and personnel from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the airport following their September 20, 2015 game against the New Orleans Saints.
In reversing the trial court’s denial of the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the Supreme Court engaged in a fact-intensive review of the extensive evidence presented on summary judgment. Specifically, the Court analyzed the evidence applying the Hillman and Hickman factors and concluded that the plaintiffs were unable to submit evidence demonstrating that a material question of fact remained. At first glance, this analysis implies that all summary judgments implicating employer-employee and independent contractor status should engage in the same degree of fact-intensive, case-by-case analysis. However, upon further review, the Bolden decision will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for litigants to establish an employer-employee relationship between off- duty law enforcement officers performing a motorcade escort and the private entity who has requested the service.
In Bolden, the Supreme Court reiterates well-established jurisprudence that “[t]he single most important factor to consider in deciding whether the employer-employee relationship exists, for purposes of La. C.C. art. 2320, is the right of the employer to control the work of the employee.” The Supreme Court then proceeded to distinguish between off-duty law enforcement officers providing premises security and off-duty law enforcement officers providing escort services.
The Court explained that private entities hiring off-duty law enforcement officers to provide premises security necessarily have greater control over the work performed because the private entity employers have custody and control of the premises where the work is performed. Conversely, “governmental entities have exclusive control over public thoroughfares; thus, in the context of a motorcycle escort, the law enforcement officers conducting the escort cannot relinquish control over the public roadway over which the motorcade travels.” (Emphasis added.) In other words, the Supreme Court seems to acknowledge that in the context of a law enforcement escort, “the single most important factor to consider in deciding whether the employer-employee relationship exists,” cannot be satisfied as a matter of law. Accordingly, in light of Bolden, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for litigants to establish an employer-employee relationship between law enforcement officers and private entities who request law enforcement escort services for funerals, weddings, school events, and other matters.
 Bolden v. Tisdale, 21-cc-00224 at p. 13 (La. 01/28/22), 2022 La. LEXIS 285 at *21, 2022 WL 262976.
 Id. at *28-29.