Thayer v. Pacific Electric Railway
Facts: ∏’s goods are damaged on ∆’s RR. ∏ sued for damages to its freight, while ∆ claimed that the notation on the freight bill referencing damage could not be construed as the required written claim b/c it was made by agent for ∆.
Holding: ∆’s station agent became shipper’s (∏) agent.
· Even though agent employed by ∆ RR, he became ∏’s agent for purpose of noting on the freight bill that plaintiff intended to claim damages.
· Rule: The existence of an agency is a question of fact, which may be implied from the conduct of the parties.
o Agent can deal with other party if such dealing is not inconsistent with his duties to his principal. Rstmt 391, Comments B and D.
§ Ex: Real Estate Agent acts on behalf of both buyer and seller when buying home.
Ambiguous Principal Problem – Have A, not clear who P is.
o This problem frequently arises in group insurance context, where an employer contracts for and administers a group policy for its EEs. The employer makes a mistake in administering a policy or gives bad advice to an EE, resulting in loss to the EE. The issue of who bears the loss turns on the agency status of employer, who appears to be acting on behalf of both the EE & the insurance company.