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Kane Furniture Corp. v. Miranda - 506 So. 2d 1061 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1987)

Rule:

The extent of control is the most important factor in determining whether a person is an independent contractor or an employee. The right of control as to the mode of doing the work is the principal consideration. If a person is subject to the control or direction of another as to his results only, he is an independent contractor; if he is subject to control as to the means used to achieve the results, he is an employee.

Facts:

Kane Furniture Corporation (“Kane”) is a furniture store which also sells carpeting. Kane sold its carpet installation business to Joseph P. Perrone in 1975, and since that time, Kane has provided carpet installation services through Perrone's installation business (“Service”) as well as through other independent carpet installers. Perrone hired other independent carpet installers, such as Kraus, to complete jobs which he could not perform

A wrongful death action was brought by Dr. Romulo Miranda against Kane and Perrone for the death of Zenaida Quintos-Miranda. Kane appealed from the trial court's final summary judgment finding that Perrone was Kane's employee and that Kraus was Kane's subemployee. Kane appealed the jury verdict finding that Kraus was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Kane also appealed the jury verdict award of $ 2.3 million to Dr. Miranda.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in finding that Perrone was Kane's employee and that Kraus was Kane's sub-employee?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

Applying the standards set forth in Restatement (Second) of Agency § 220 (1958), the appellate court reversed and remanded. Kraus and Perrone were independent contractors, and Kane was not vicariously liable for their negligence. Both were in a distinct occupation requiring skill; they performed the installation work using their own tools and without supervision by Kane; they were only engaged by Kane on an as needed basis; they were paid by the job; and neither they nor Kane thought their relationship was one of employer-employee. Kraus was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident.

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