Saturday, May 17, 2014

Manes v. Coats case brief summary

Manes v. Coats (Alaska 1997) [When Summary Judgment is used as opposed to Jury to determine whether Agency  Relationship exists]
o   Facts
§  Manes planned to visit Alaska, she contacted a reservation/referral service called “One Call” to arrange for bed and breakfast accommodations
§  While at the Inn, Manes, wearing light-adjusting sunglasses, was unable to see well and after being told to come in, she took one step, fell down the stairs and fractured her wrist
§  Manes sued the owner of the Inn as well as the owners of One Call
o   Holding
§  A court may rule on the existence and scope of an agency relationship which arises from undisputed facts. Thus, this case was properly subject to summary judgment
§  One Call was NOT an agent of Manes here. Two elements were missing:
·         (1) Control
o   The only power One Call had to act on Manes’ behalf was to make a reservation in her name. They had no contact beyond that.
o   Manes exercised no control over One Call beyond listing requirements for a room
·         (2) agent has to have a representational position—had no power to act on behalf of Manes here
§  Since One Call was not an agent, it owed Manes no duty to inspect the locations it referred people to (Court implied that Manes could have relied that One Call would not refer her to a location it KNEW was obviously dangerous).
·         Note on Travel Agents
o   Some courts have expressly excluded a duty of inspection from the duties of a travel agent.
o   Other courts have required travel agents to disclose all “reasonably obtainable” information
§  There is no indication that this requires travel agents to investigate every establishment to which their clients travel.

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