Judge Kiyo Matsumoto
Leach was a passenger in a livery car driven by Royal Dispatch Services franchisee Kaykov. He was hurt in a 2007 collision in a construction zone. Royal sought judgment as a matter of law on J. Fletcher Creamer Inc.’s cross-claim for contribution. Royal argued that as Kaykov was already found an independent contractor, liability for his acts could be imputed to it only if it controlled the manner and means by which Kaykov performed his work as a driver. Based on undisputed evidence about the independent nature of a franchisee’s performance of jobs received through Royal’s dispatch system, and Royal’s lack of control over the means by which franchisee/drivers perform livery work, the court found Royal entitled to judgment. Prescribing the model and year of vehicle to be used by franchisees was insufficient to establish the control required for a finding that Royal was liable for Kaykov’s alleged negligence. The franchise agreement, rule book and franchisee testimony established that franchisees, including Kaykov, exercise self-determination as to how livery jobs were performed. Royal’s only exercise of authority over franchisees was of a general supervisory nature not supporting vicarious liability.