Agency Terminates at Point of Delivery

November 27, 2019

Earlier this year, an Illinois Appellate Court held that an agency relationship terminates upon the completion of the task the agent is conducting within the scope of its employment for the principal.

In Brettman v. M&G Truck Brokerage, 2019 IL App (2d) 180236 (Jan. 17, 2019), the court expanded on the reasoning supplied by Sperl v. C.H. Robinson World Wide, 408 Ill. App. 3d 1051 (2011).  In Brettman, a freight broker hired a trucking company to haul a load from Texas to a commercial facility in Woodstock, Illinois. The contract between the parties required the trucking company to keep the load below a specified temperature. Ultimately, the court found a problem with the vicarious liability claim: the accident occurred after the delivery when — 25 miles from the commercial site — the truck driver (on its return trip) allegedly failed to spot the red light on a temporary traffic-control signal at an under-construction intersection and smashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Although both cases have similar fact patterns, there was a one key difference In Sperl, the accident occurred when the driver was acting at the broker’s direction., In this case, the accident occurred after the trucking company completed its contract for delivery and after the broker ceased to exercise any control over it. The agency relationship terminated upon the completion of the task of delivering the load to the commercial facility.

For more information on how the Brettman decision may affect you or your business and for best practice procedures contact the attorney’s at Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC.