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Bell v. VPSI, Inc.

205 S.W.3d 706 (2006)

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Bell v. VPSI, Inc.

Texas Court of Appeals

205 S.W.3d 706 (2006)

Facts

Homer Bell (defendant) worked for Lockheed and entered into an agreement with VPSI, Inc. (defendant) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (defendant) to be a carpool driver for Lockheed employees. Under the agreement, Homer was provided a van by VPSI and agreed to drive and maintain the van. Homer agreed to obtain maintenance service at approved locations, get prior approval for maintenance or repairs over a certain dollar amount, not drive beyond a 200-mile radius of his house, and comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. Homer was also permitted to drive the van for personal use on evenings and weekends, up to 250 miles. Homer was responsible for the fuel charges for the personal use of the van. The agreement also required that drivers have a valid driver’s license, have been driving for at least five years, and receive written approval from VPSI to become a driver. Finally, the agreement stated that Homer was an independent contractor and not an agent, servant, or employee of VPSI. During one Saturday, Homer drove the van for several errands with his wife, Linda Bell (plaintiff), as a passenger. Homer hydroplaned on a wet roadway and crashed the van into a tree. Linda was injured and sued Homer, VPSI, and the Transportation Authority. Linda alleged that VPSI and the Transportation Authority were vicariously responsible for Homer’s negligence. VPSI and the Transportation Authority moved for summary judgment, arguing that Homer was an independent contractor. The trial court granted the motion, and Linda appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gardner, J.)

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