An Employer's Liability for Employee's Acts Case Study

Added on - 20 Sep 2019

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STUDEBAKER V NETTIE’S FLOWER’S GARDEN, INC[Judith Studebaker was injured when a van driven by James Ferry collided with her vehicle. She broughtan action against Nettie ’ s Flower Garden, Inc. (Nettie ’ s), on a respondeat superior theory in the beliefthat Ferry was Nettie ’ s employee at the time of the accident. Nettie ’ s defended that Ferry was anindependent contractor, not an employee. From a judgment in favor of Studebaker for $125,000, Nettie’ s appealed.] CRANDALL, P. J. ... ... Ferry delivered flowers for Nettie ’ s from its main shop on GrandAvenue in the City of St. Louis. Ferry was paid, not by the hour, but at a rate of $2.50 to$3.00 perdelivery. If there were no deliveries, he was not paid. He delivered only in an area of St. Louis whichNettie ’ s designated as his territory. Nettie ’ s required him to make two runs each day: one in themorning at 9:30 A . M .; one in the afternoon at 1:30 P . M . When he arrived at the shop, he setup hisown route based upon the location of the deliveries in his area. He generally got to work at8:00 A . M .to prepare for the morning run and at 12:00 P . M . to prepare for the afternoon run. Nettie ’ s alsorequired Ferry to stop by its shop in downtown St. Louis at St. Louis Centre before noon each day to pickup items which needed to be transported to the Grand Avenue shop. After this stop, Ferry proceeded tothe Grand Avenue shop for his afternoon run. Nettie ’ s paid Ferry $5.00 for this stop, whether or notthere was anything for him to take to the Grand Avenue shop. Ferry used his own van for the deliveries;Nettie ’ s required that it be heated and air-conditioned to protect the flowers and plants. Although hedid not wear a uniform, Nettie ’ s directed that Ferry be neat in appearance and that he conduct himselfin a certain manner when on the job. If his behavior or appearance fell below its standards, Nettie ’ sreprimanded Ferry. Ferry paid his own expenses and received no fringe benefits from Nettie ’ s. OnAugust 9, 1989, the date of the accident in question, Ferry made his morning run and then his mid-daystop at the downtown shop at about11:00 A . M . There was nothing for him to transport to the GrandAvenue shop. After Ferry left the downtown shop, he stopped at a pawn shop to conduct personalbusiness. He then proceeded to the Grand Avenue shop to prepare for his afternoon run. On the way tothe Grand Avenue shop, at approximately 11:45 A . M ., Ferry ’ s van collided with plaintiff ’ s automobileUnder the doctrine of respondeat superior an employer is liable for those negligent acts or omissions ofhis employee which are committed within the scope of his employment ... . Liability based onrespondeat superior requires some evidence that a master-servant relationship existed between thepar-ties ... . The test to determine if respondeat superior applies to a tort is whether the person soughtto be charged as master had the right or power to control and direct the physical conduct of the other inthe performance of the act ... . If there was no right to control there is no liability; for those renderingservices but retaining control over their own movements are not servants ... . [Judith Studebaker wasinjured when a van driven by James Ferry collided with her vehicle. She brought an action against Nettie’ s Flower Garden, Inc. (Nettie ’ s), on a respondeat superior theory in the belief that Ferry was Nettie ’ semployee at the time of the accident. Nettie ’ s defended that Ferry was an independent contractor, notan employee. From a judgment in favor of Studebaker for$125,000, Nettie ’ s appealed.] CRANDALL, P. J.Ferry delivered flowers for Nettie ’ s from its main shop on Grand Avenue in the City of St. Louis. Ferry
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