Hoover v. Sun Oil Company DE. 1965
Facts: This case is concerned with injuries received as a the result of a fire at the service station operated by James F. Barone and owned by Sun Oil Company. The fire started at the rear of plaintiff’s car where it was being filled with gasoline and was allegedly caused by the negligence of John Smilyk, an employee of Barone. Plaintiffs brought suit against Smilyk, Barone and Sun Oil Company, which owned the service station.
Issue: Is there a master-servant (agency) relationship between Barone and Sun Oil Co., thus making Sun liable for its agent’s negligence?
Holding: Sun had no control over the details of Barone’s day-to-day operation. Therefore, no liability can be imputed to Sun from the allegedly negligent acts of Smilyk.
Reasoning: The test to be applied is that of whether the oil company has retained the right to control the details of the day-to-day operation of the service station; control or influence over results alone being viewed as insufficient.
Argument for Control
Sun owned station, most equipment, certain advertising displays.
-Dealer’s agreement - station purchases Sun products, Sun loans necessary equipment
-Employees wore Sun uniforms
-Attended Sun school for service station operators
-Weekly visits by Sun sales representatives.
Argument for No Control
-Independently determined hours of operation
-Hired own employees
-No requirement to follow advise; no written reports
-Could sell competitor’s products.
-No contractual obligations