Friday, October 19, 2012

Mill Street Church of Christ v. Hogan case brief

Mill Street Church of Christ v. Hogan
785 S.W.2d 263 (1990)

-On appeal to review the New Workers' Compensation Board's decision, reversing the Old Worker's Compensation Board's decision denying the plaintiff's benefits.

-The church decided to hire Hogan to paint the church.
-The church also decided that Petty would be hired to assist if any was needed.
-When Hogan was hired, no mention was made of hiring a helper at that time.
-Hogan painted by himself until he reached a difficult portion of the building.
-Hogan discussed hiring a helper and nothing was said of having to hire Petty.
-Hogan approached his brother who he had hired in the past on a number of Church jobs and his brother, Sam, accepted.
-The ladder broke and Sam was injured and taken to the hospital.
-The Elders found out about Sam's employment at that time. Hogan reported the accident to the treasurer and was told that there was insurance and the treasurer paid his brother for the work performed prior to the accident.
-It is undisputed that the Church is an insured employer under Workers' Compensation.
-Hogan filed a claim under the Act. The Old Board ruled that Sam was not an employee.
-The New Board reversed.
-Petitioners argue that the New Board erred in finding that Hogan possessed implied authority as an agent to hire Sam.
-They contend there was neither implied nor apparent authority.

ISSUE: Does an agent who is told to hire whomever he chooses have implied or apparent authority to hire any person to assist him?

HOLDING: “Apparent authority” is not actual authority but is the authority the agent is held out by the principal as possessing; it is a matter of appearances on which third parties come to rely.

- Agency cannot be proven by a mere statement, but it can be established by circumstantial evidence including the acts and conduct of the parties such as the continuous course of conduct of the parties covering a number of successive transactions.
- If considering past similar acts done in a similar manner, it is found that the present action was taken with the apparent scope of the agent's authority, the act is binding upon the principal.
-It has been held that technical distinctions between implied or apparent authority are immaterial if a third party would suffer loss. The principal will be bound to a third person by the act of the agent within his implied authority even if the third person was unaware that the agent's authority was only implied.
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