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Nears v. Holiday Hospitality Franchising, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas
295 S.W.3d 787 (2010)


Facts

Sharon Nears (plaintiff) worked as the guest-services manager at the Mount Pleasant Holiday Inn (hotel) (defendant). The hotel was franchised by Holiday Hospitality Franchising, Inc. (Holiday) (defendant). Nears alleged that Jack Marshall (defendant), the interim general manager at the hotel, had violent outbursts at work and created an environment of fear. The hotel later fired Nears, and she was not provided a reason for her termination. Nears filed a lawsuit against Marshall, the hotel, and Holiday. Nears alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress by Marshall. Nears claimed that Marshall acted as Holiday’s agent, and that Holiday was vicariously liable for Marshall’s tortious behavior. To support her vicarious-liability claim, Nears argued that Holiday controlled Marshall’s conduct as a general manager. Nears cited a manual that Holiday provided to all franchisees stating that all general managers were required to attend a conference hosted by Holiday each year. The evidence showed, however, that Marshall never attended the Holiday conferences. Nears also pointed to quarterly inspections conducted by Holiday at its franchisee hotels for further support of Holiday’s control over Marshall. Holiday introduced evidence that showed that Holiday did not have financial control over the hotel, that Holiday did not have the authority to hire or fire workers at the hotel, and that Holiday did not pay any compensation to employees at the hotel. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Holiday, and Nears appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moseley, J.)

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