she had beaten Stein with a yoga stick after Stein berated her and blew marijuana smoke in her face

From the New York Law Journal:

A temporary employment agency can be held liable to the family of prominent Manhattan real estate broker Linda Stein, who was bludgeoned to death by a personal assistant employed by the agency, a judge has ruled.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings denied summary judgment to Axion LLC, the temp agency that employed Natavia Lowery, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2007 slaying of Stein.

Axion said it had no reason to know of Lowery's violent propensities, and no reason to query references or public records before assigning Lowery the job at the request of Stein's employer, real estate giant Douglas Elliman, also named as a defendant.

The fact that Lowery had failed to appear in court to respond to a traffic offense, and failed to report for a job Axion had assigned to her prior to Stein, were sufficient facts to have "prompted a duty to investigate her poor job performance and irresponsibility further, potentially uncovering more serious misconduct, and may have been reason alone not to hire her for a further placement," Billings said in an opinion released June 2.

"While an employer owes no duty to inquire whether an employee has been convicted of crimes in the past, an employer must investigate a prospective employee's background if, based on known facts, a reasonably prudent person would conduct such an investigation," Billings said.

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