A party asserting ostensible agency must demonstrate that (1) the principal, by its conduct, (2) caused him or her to reasonably believe that the putative agent was an employee or agent of the principal, and (3) that he or she justifiably relied on the appearance of agency.
Respondent bite victim sued petitioner hospital hospital system on a vicarious liability theory when physicians in petitioner;s emergency room failed to properly treat respondent’s spider bite. The trial court granted summary judgment on petitioner’s assertion that the physicians were independent contractors. The appellate court reversed, imposing a nondelegable duty on petitioner for the negligence of its emergency room physicians.
Did the plaintiff raise a genuine issue of material fact that the defendant Hospital was vicariously liable under the theory of ostensible agency for an emergency room physician’s negligence?
The Supreme Court reversed, rejecting the impositions of a non delegable duty. The Supreme Court determined that the appropriate standard for liability required respondent to establish an ostensible agency. The supreme court held that respondent had to show that the conduct of petitioner led respondent to reasonably believe that emergency room physicians were petitioner’s employees and that she justifiably relied on that appearance. The supreme court determined that based on the record, respondent failed to produce sufficient summary judgment evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact on each element of ostensible agency.