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Lewis V. D. Hays Trucking, Inc.

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Lewis v. D. Hays Trucking, Inc.

This case revolves around the liability of principals, agents, and independent contractors. The question is whether D. Hays Trucking Inc. is an employee of Hercules Inc. or is D. Hays Trucking Inc. an independent contractor? Once that question is answered, the court case becomes very clear of who is responsible for the damages caused by an accident. Here is the facts and background of the case. Hercules Inc. is large chemical corporation that has operations in Brunswick, Georgia. Hercules gathers tree stumps from various locations and parties. These tree stumps are taken to their plant in Georgia and processed. They extract a resin from the tree stumps and they in turn sell this resin to other manufacturers. D. Hays Trucking Inc. is owned and operated by Dexter Hays. According to Cheeseman (2012), Dexter Hays handled the following responsibilities: * Hired its own truckers and other employees * Paid for its employees’ workers’ compensation coverage * Paid for the company’s liability insurance * Withheld federal and state taxes from employees’ paychecks. Hercules and Hays entered into a contract. Hays would use a bulldozer to push stumps out of the ground. He would then deliver them to Hercules processing plant in Georgia using his own trucks. The contract between Hays and Hercules stated:
It is understood that the Contractor is an independent contractor and that the Contractor will perform all work and furnish all labor, equipment, machinery, and do everything necessary for the harvesting and delivery of whatever wood the Contractor sells to Hercules. This includes, but is not limited to, compliance with the workers’ compensation laws and all laws and regulations relating to hiring, wages, hours, and taxes as may be applicable to the Contractor’s operation. Contractor, its employees and agents will in no way be regarded, nor shall they act as agents or employees of Hercules. (Cheeseman, 2012, p. 511) Hays Inc. then started pulling stumps from the ground and delivering them to Hercules processing plant. D. Hays supervised and directed his employees and his truck drivers. Hercules would sometimes mark tree stumps that they would prefer. Hays used his own discretion and would sometimes pull the marked stumps and would sometimes choose different stumps to deliver. In about the course of one year, Hays Inc. delivered 84 truckloads to Hercules Inc. For the 85th load, Floyd Dexter Hays (owner of D. Hays Trucking, Inc.) drove the tractor trailer himself loaded with approximately 80,000 pounds of tree stumps. About 10 miles away from Hercules processing plant in Georgia, D. Hays crashed his tractor trailer into another driver, Phyllis Lewis, killing her. D. Hays was speeding, going 10 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit and there were no skid marks from the tractor trailer until after it had hit the other vehicle. Preston Lewis was the executor of Phyllis Lewis estate. He brought suit in the U.S. District Court against Mr. Hays, D. Hays Trucking, Inc., and Hercules, Inc., to recover damages for negligence and respondeat superior (Cheeseman, 2012, p. 511). Hercules made a motion for summary judgment, alleging that D. Hays Trucking, Inc., was and independent contractor and therefore Hercules could not be held liable for its negligence (Cheeseman, 2012, p. 511). According to Cheeseman (2012), the language of the court was as follows:
Here, the terms of the Harvesting Contract and Freight Contract between Hays and Hercules clearly denominates Hays as an independent contractor. Nothing about those contracts purports to subject Hays to any rules or policies of Hercules. Thus, the presumption arises that Hays is an independent contractor. In the end, it is Hays who determined the time, manner, and method of his work. It was Hays who decided whether he would work a particular tract to “push” the stumps and Hays who hired other individuals to haul the harvested stumps to Hercules. (p. 512)
The court ruled that Hays was an independent contractor. He was not an employee of Hercules. Therefore, Hercules could not be held liable and Hercules’s motion for summary judgment was granted. The court got this absolutely right. The language of the contract is very clearly written and states that D. Hays is an independent contractor. Hays used his own discretion when harvesting stumps and on many occasions would not harvest a stump that Hercules marked for harvesting. Hays also hired his own workers and followed all the rules and regulations that are required when you are an employer. None of this was handled by Hercules. By the clearly written language of their contract and the actions of Hays, it is unmistakably obvious that D. Hays Trucking, Inc. is an independent contractor of Hercules Inc.

References
Ao 72a (rev.8/82) in the united states district court for the northern district of georgia atlanta division. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/georgia/gandce/1:2008cv01904/151658/169/0.pdf?1269973533
Cheeseman, H. (2012). Business law. (8th ed.). United States of America: Prentice Hall.…...

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