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Satellite TV installer may be "agent" of DISH provider

Linda Sue Wolford was badly hurt in a car accident, when a dish TV installer's service truck crossed the centerline at high speed and struck her vehicle.  The installer, Phillip Pikarski, had just completed one installation, and was dropping the paperwork off at the TV-service retailer's headquarters between installations when the accident occurred.  Wolford's attorneys sued Pikarski and the retailer, however, the Circuit Court judge dismissed her claims against the retailer, Thumb Home Real Video, LLC.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed this decision.  It held that the question of a principal's responsibility for the negligence of it's agent is frequently one for the jury to decide.  To assess agency responsibility, the court must examine the actual relations of the parties In the instant case, the installer handled mandatory paperwork for the retailer in addition to performing it's essential equipment installation.  Furthermore, the installer did not inform customers of an "independent contractor" status, and his contract required that  he work exclusively for Thumb.  On that basis, Thumb was "controlling" his actions for its own benefit to an extent that justified submitting the agency question to the jury.

Christopher Murray, who never votes against insurers' interests, dissented from the majority's decision.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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