Abstract

BUYERS, BEWARE: THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT'S ABROGATION OF THE APPARENT AUTHORITY DOCTRINE LEAVES PLAINTIFFS HOLDING THE TAB FOR TORTS OF FRANCHISEES—MOBIL OIL CORP. V. BRANSFORD

BRETT A. BROSSEIT

Copyright © 1996 Florida State University Law Review

This Note argues that the Florida Supreme Court's grant of summary judgment in Mobil Oil Corp. v. Bransford, despite ample evidence of apparent authority, will likely set precedent leading to inefficient economic results and inequitable decisions in future cases involving customers injured by the negligence of a business operator. Part II of this Note provides a brief history of legal developments in oil company franchise cases and illustrates the challenges courts have faced in applying traditional vicarious liability principles in the context of modern franchise arrange ments. Part III discusses the court's holding in Mobil Oil and assesses the current status of vicarious liability law in Florida. In part IV, the rationale supporting the concept of vicarious liability is explored in order to analyze the impact the court's decision will have on Florida's agency law jurisprudence. Finally, alternative approaches are suggested for developing a theory that will better implement the policy goals behind vicarious liability in light of the commercial realities of the developing franchise industry.


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