Chapter 20-Relationships between Principal and Agent
Part 1:Background Facts: You and Winnie and Ralph are discussing Viral Clean’s plan to hire George Tacy as an agent for recruitment and hiring computer/IT employees. You all recognize the importance of having a clearly defined agency agreement, and there are different types of agents.
1. Analyze and recommend whether Tacy should be an employee of Clean or an independent contractor? Explain why.
Recurring Issues in Agency Law
Consider John Alden (1599–1687), one of the most famous agents in American literature. He is said to have been the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620; he was a carpenter, a cooper (barrel maker), and a diplomat. His agency task—of interest here—was celebrated in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” He was to woo Priscilla Mullins (d. 1680), “the loveliest maiden of Plymouth,” on behalf of Captain Miles Standish, a valiant soldier
who was too shy to propose marriage. Standish turned to John Alden, his young and eloquent protégé, and beseeched Alden to speak on his behalf, unaware that Alden himself was in love with Priscilla. Alden accepted his captain’s assignment, despite the knowledge that he would thus lose Priscilla for himself, and sought out the lady. But Alden was so tongue-tied that his vaunted eloquence fell short, turned Priscilla cold toward the object of Alden’s mission, and eventually led her to turn the tables in one of the most famous lines in American literature and poetry: “Why don’t you
speak for yourself, John?” John eventually did: the two were married in 1623 in Plymouth.
Here are some questions to consider, the same questions that will recur throughout the discussion of agency:
How extensive was John’s authority? Could he have made promises to Priscilla on the captain’s behalf—for example, that Standish would have built her a fine house?
Could he, if he committed a tort, have imposed liability on his principal?
Suppose, for example, that he had ridden at breakneck speed to reach Priscilla’s side and while en route ran into and injured a pedestrian on the road. Could the pedestrian have sued Standish?
Suppose Alden had injured himself on the journey. Would Standish be liable to Alden?
Is Alden liable to Standish for stealing the heart of Priscilla—that is, for taking the “profits” of the enterprise for himself?
Analyze and recommend whether Tacy should be an employee of Clean or an independent contractor?
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