Thursday, November 14, 2013

Miller v. McDonald’s Corp. case brief

Miller v. McDonald’s Corp. case brief summary
150 Or.App. 274

Plaintiff customer sought damages for injuries she suffered while eating a sandwich purchased at a restaurant. The Circuit Court of Multnomah County (Oregon) granted summary judgment to defendant corporation on the ground that it did not own or operate the restaurant; rather, the owner and operator held a franchise from the corporation. The customer appealed.

Under a detailed license agreement, the franchisee was required to operate the restaurant in a manner consistent with the corporation's system and was considered an independent contractor. The customer claimed that she relied on the corporation's reputation because the restaurant was similar in appearance to other restaurants of the corporation that she had patronized and there was no indication that any entity other than the corporation was involved. 

  • The court reversed the grant of summary judgment because there was enough evidence to permit a jury to find that the corporation was vicariously liable for the franchisee's alleged negligence. 
  • There was sufficient evidence to raise an issue of actual agency because the corporation had the right to exercise control over the franchisee's daily operations. 
  • There was sufficient evidence to raise an issue of apparent agency because the corporation's requirements were imposed to maintain an image of uniformity. 
  • The level of the customer's reliance on the corporation's reputation was also not unreasonable as a matter of law.
CONCLUSION: The order was reversed and the case was remanded.

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