Gorton v. Doty

Gorton v. Doty
57 Idaho 792, 69 P.2d 136, (1937)

Facts: Defendant, Doty, gave permission to Russell Garst to use her car in order to transport several high school football players to a game. The defendant’s only stipulation was that he should be the driver.  An accident occurred returning from the game, which injured the plaintiff’s son.  The plaintiff commenced action against the defendant     claiming that Garst was acting as her agent.  The defendant claimed that she only loaned Garst the car.  The lower court granted judgment for the plaintiff.

Issue: Was Garst the agent of Doty while driving her car to the game and in returning where the accident occurred?

Holding: Yes.

Decision: “Agency” indicates the relationship which exists where one person acts for another.  In this case the court was concerned with the principal and agent category of agency.   A business relationship is not required, nor is a contract between the principal and agent.  Likewise, compensation is not required.  The only requirement for the relationship of principal and agent to exist is where one undertakes to transact some business or manage some affair for another, by authority and on account of the latter.  Furthermore, the fact of ownership alone, regardless of the presence or absence of the owner establishes a prima fascia case that the driver is the agent of the owner.  The defendant    did not state in her testimony that mentioned anything about lending the car to Garst, only that he could use it if he were the driver.  Therefore, the evidence sufficiently supports the finding that the relationship of principal and agent existed between Doty and Garst.  Judgment was affirmed.

Dissent: Judge Budge felt that there was a total lack of evidence to support the allegation that Garst was an agent of Doty.  Also, he felt that the judgment should have been reversed due to prejudicial remarks made by counsel for the plaintiff who suggested that the defendant was carrying insurance.

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