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Florida Fifth DCA rules that whether pizza chain was vicariously liable for negligent conduct by a franchisee's employee was a disputed question of agency subject to jury determination

On May 11, 2018, in Domino’s Pizza v. Wiederhold, et al., No. 5D16-2794, the Florida Fifth DCA ruled that whether Domino’s Pizza was vicariously liable for negligent conduct by a franchisee’s employee in a motor vehicle accident was a disputed question of agency subject to jury determination rather than a matter of law “capable of but one determination” by the trial court. Domino’s had contended that as a matter of law it was not vicariously liable for the automobile accident because it had no control over the franchisee’s day-to-day operations. The trial court rejected Domino’s summary judgment motion on this issue and at trial the jury concluded that the franchisee was an agent of Domino’s at the time of the crash such that the actions of the franchisee’s employee were vicariously imputed to Domino’s. The Fifth DCA agreed, noting that there was “abundant evidence” of control.

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