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Butler v. McDonald’s Corp.
United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island
110 F. Supp. 2d 62 (2000)
In late July of 1975, Butler (plaintiff), a minor, briefly stepped outside of a McDonald’s restaurant he was patronizing. When Butler attempted to go back inside, the glass door of the restaurant shattered, leaving him with substantial injuries. The McDonald’s restaurant was owned and operated by James Cooper, a franchisee, not the McDonald’s Corporation (McDonald’s) (defendant), the franchisor. Additionally, the restaurant workers were employed by Cooper alone. Butler and his parents sued McDonald’s for damages caused by the negligence of Cooper and his employees under a theory that Cooper and the employees were agents of McDonald’s. In his complaint, Butler alleged that he reasonably believed that Cooper and the employees of the restaurant were agents of McDonald’s, that his belief was attributable to McDonald’s advertising practices and consistency requirements for franchises, and that his injuries were suffered in reliance on Cooper’s and Cooper’s employees’ care. McDonald’s moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lagueux, J.)
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