Whether a person acts as an independent contractor or as an agent for purposes of determining whether the defendant bears respondeat superior liability for that person’s torts depends on several factors, the most important of which is the defendant’s right to control the agent’s performance of his duties.  This decision holds that in determining whether the defendant exercised sufficient control to make the tortfeasor the defendant’s agent, the jury may properly consider the degree of control which public regulations require the defendant to exercise over the tortfeasor.  Hence, in this case, the jury verdict against defendant taxi cab co-op was supported by evidence that local ordinances required the co-op to exercise control over its taxi drivers, all of whom had agreed to act as independent contractors.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5 (Kriegler, J.); February 15, 2017; 2017 WL 605487