Relationship Between Wheels for Hire and Sam Spade
Order ID 53563633773 Type Essay Writer Level Masters Style APA Sources/References 4 Perfect Number of Pages to Order 5-10 Pages
Relationship Between Wheels for Hire and Sam Spade
Issue: Did a principle-agent relationship exist between Wheels for Hire and Sam Spade at the time of accident such that Wheels for Hire should be held liable for plaintiffs’ injuries?
Discussion: This case concerns an employer’s liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior. The threshold question here is whether Spade’s act that caused the accident was committed within the scope of his employment with Wheels for Hire. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a principal (employer) may be held responsible for torts–intentional or negligent–that his agent (employee) commits upon third parties. For this doctrine to apply and to hold the employer liable, the employee’s tortious acts must be within the scope of employment; that is, the acts should be authorized by the employer. Unauthorized acts committed by an employee are deemed outside the scope of employment, and they relieve the employer from his/her/its duty of indemnification for the tort. The liability for a tort resulting from the unauthorized act of an employee, thus, falls upon the employee from whose act the tort ensued. In the present case, Wheels for Hire may be held liable for Spade’s negligence under the doctrine of respndeat superior if an agency relationship existed between Wheels for Hire and Spade at the time of accident.
The inquiry into the threshold question leads to two other questions: (1) whether at the time of accident Spade was acting in the interest of Wheels for Hire, and (2) whether Spade was authorized to be at the location where the accident occurred (Kubasek, Brennan & Browne, 2015, p. 273). These are questions of facts.
In answering the first question, it must be noted that Spade was not hired to drive company’s vehicles to go see his mother. When Spade drove the car to see his mother and caused the accident on his way back, his purpose for driving the car was to see his mother, a purpose which was outside his contractual obligation to his employer. In driving the car at the time of the accident, Spade was not acting in the interest of Wheels for Hire.
In answering the second question, an analysis of the conversation between Spade and Hurley demonstrates that Spade had neither an express nor an implied authority to drive the car to go see his mother during his lunch break. The car key was under the control of Hurley, another company employee, whose job was to closely monitor and record company vehicles’ use and location each day. Against her obligation to disallow unauthorized uses of vehicles, Hurley gave the key to Spade and permitted him to go see his mother during his lunch break. In doing so, Hurley knew that, if her supervisor found out that she gave the key to Spade for an unauthorized purpose, she would get in trouble. Hurley’s act was collusive and not within the scope of her employment. The two employees of Wheels for Hire, Spade and Curly, acted outside the scope of their employment when Curly clandestinely gave and Spade acquired the key to drive the car to go see his mother. The accident occurred when Spade was returning from his visit to his mother. Spade was not authorized to be at the location where the accident occurred.
The above analysis establishes that in driving the car to go see his mother, Spade acted outside the scope of his employment. The same analysis, establishing that the company unambiguously disapproves driving of company vehicles by employees without express authority and that employees are aware of such disapproval, also maintains that Wheels on Hire did not ratify similar acts by employees in the past, further eroding the bases of any possible cause of action against Wheels on Hire arising out of the car accident.
Another line of inquiring in seeking to determine whether Wheels for Hire can be held liable for the injuries that Spade’s car accident caused to the third party is whether Wheels for Hire was negligent in entrusting to Spade the vehicle that was involved in the accident. The facts show that Wheels for Hire had an elaborate system of control over the vehicles to ensure that the employer knew at any given moment where each car was and for what purpose it was being used. It is clear that Wheels for Hire fully controlled the purpose and manner of use of its vehicles and discouraged unapproved driving of its vehicles. The facts also demonstrate that Wheels for Hire ensured also that its employees were unambiguously aware of the company policy against unauthorized driving of company’s vehicles. The facts, thus, clearly exonerate Wheels for Hire and shield it from imputation of negligence for the unauthorized acts caused by Spade. Wheels for Hire is neither fully nor jointly and severally liable for the injuries caused by Spade.
The facts of the case indicate that any possible liability for the injuries caused in the car accident lies upon Spade. Wheels on Hire, being the employer, reasonably expected from Spade a number of duties, including the duty of obedience and the duty of accounting. Spade owed a duty of obedience to his employer, and he should have followed his employers’ lawful and reasonable commands. Failing to follow his employer’s instructions against unauthorized and unapproved driving of company vehicles, Spade disregarded the terms of his employment. Spade caused the accident when he was engaged in willful disobedience of his employer. Similarly, in surreptitiously driving the company car for his personal purpose, Spade failed in his duty of accountability toward his employer company for authorized use of company property. The responsibility for the car accident, and any damages arising out it, lie upon his shoulder. No such responsibility can be attributed to and indemnified upon Wheels for Hire. Under the above analysis, Wheels on Hire cannot be held liable for plaintiffs’ injuries caused by the car accident.
Final comments: Spade is answerable for the charge of negligent driving in his personal capacity, and he is the responsible party for any resulting damages. The plaintiffs may proceed against both Spade and Hurley for negligence, and, if both are found guilty, the court may assess damages against both of them. Depending on the state in which the case is brought, the damages may be assessed for each jointly and severally or based on the degree of contribution of each of the two defendants in causing plaintiffs’ injuries. Wheels for Hire can pursue its own case against Spade and Hurley for the entrustment of the car by Hurley against the company the policy. Wheels for Hire can take any other action under the company policy for their transgressive acts.
Pearsons custom resources, AMBA 610 (2014) Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.
Kubasek, N.K., Brennan, B.A. & Browne, M.N. (2015). The legal environment of
business: A critical thinking approach (7th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.