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Law School Case Brief

Arguello v. Conoco, Inc. - 207 F.3d 803 (5th Cir. 2000)


Under general agency principles, a master is subject to liability for the torts of his servants while acting in the scope of their employment. Some of the factors used when considering whether an employee's acts are within the scope of employment are: 1) the time, place and purpose of the act; 2) its similarity to acts which the servant is authorized to perform; 3) whether the act is commonly performed by servants; 4) the extent of departure from normal methods; and 5) whether the master would reasonably expect such act would be performed.


The appellants, a group of Hispanic and African-American consumers, filed suit against appellees, Conoco, Inc. (Conoco) alleging that they were subjected to racial discrimination while purchasing gasoline and other services. They challenge the district court's 12(b)(6) dismissal of their disparate impact claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a, and the district court's grant of summary judgment to Conoco on the appellants remaining 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 2000a claims.


Was there an agency relationship between Conoco and the branded stores in question?




The appellate court affirmed the lower court decisions except for the ruling on Conoco's liability for the clerk's conduct, which was reversed because the restricted vicarious liability rule did not apply in the public accommodation context.

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