Hoddeson v. Koos Bros NJ 1957
Facts: In August 1956, the plaintiff, Mrs. Hoddeson, went to defendants furniture store and had decided to purchase a mirror and bedroom furniture. A man approached her in the furniture store to assist her with her purchase. The man pulled out a pad upon which he presumably recorded her order and calculated the total purchase price to be $168.50. Mrs. Hoddeson handed to him the $168.50 in cash and failed to get a receipt. He informed her the articles other than those on display were not in stock, and that reproductions would upon notice be delivered to her in September. Mrs. Hoddeson did not receive her furniture by September so she inquired about it with defendant. At this point, defendant notified Mrs. Hoddeson that its records failed to disclose any such sale to her and any such monetary credit in payment. It turns out that the person who served Mrs. Hoddeson was not a salesman for defendant. Mrs. Hoddeson brought this action to recover her lost money.
Issue: Does the evidence circumstantiate the presence of apparent authority in the salesman/impostor?
Holding: Where a proprietor of a place of business by his dereliction of duty enables one who is not his agent conspicuously to act as such and ostensibly to transact the proprietor’s business with a patron in the establishment, the appearances being of such a character as to lead a person of ordinary prudence and circumspection to believe that the impostor was in truth the proprietor’s agent, in such circumstances the law will not permit the proprietor defensively to avail himself of the impostor’s lack of authority and thus escape liability for the consequential loss thereby sustained by the customer.
-Probably not. He is an impostor and does not even work for the store.
-Better argument. Some manifestation that the third party can trace back to the principal that makes it appear that he works there. But the reality is that he doesn’t even work there, so you can’t say there is apparent authority.
-Not his actual principal so it cannot be an undisclosed principal.
*New Rule: The duty of the proprietor also encircles the exercise of reasonable care and vigilance to protect the customer from loss occasioned by the deceptions of an apparent salesman.
-General Point: Scope of the authority of the agent may extend beyond what the principal and agent actually agreed to because we need to be confident that we can rely on the fact that the agent is acting within the scope of the authority.