Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, Kyran Murphy, slipped and injured herself at a hotel operated that was franchised by Defendant, Holiday Inns, Inc., to a third party.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When establishing an agency relationship through a contract, the nature and extent of the control agreed upon will determine whether the agency exists.
Issue. The issue is whether the franchise contract established a master-servant relationship.
Held. The contract did not establish a master-servant relationship. Many of the provisions of the contract were in place to protect Defendant’s trademark. However, normal day-to-day operations, such as hiring, price structure and business expenditures were still controlled by the third party hotel owner.
The court allowed a summary judgment because the issue before the court was a question of law since it was interpreting terms of a contract.
The court noted that franchise agreements can still establish a master-servant relationship, but the agreement here did not meet the burden. However, the court seems to raise the bar for proving an agency relationship when the master-principal is obligated to exert further control to protect a trademark.