Hoover v. Sun Oil Company
58 Del. 553, 212 A.2d 214 (1965).

Facts:
Hoover was injured in a fire while pumping gas and sued Sun Oil, the owner of the station. Sun argued that they weren’t liable because Barone, and independent contractor, operated it. Hoover contends there was an agency relationship.

Issue:
Was Barone a servant or an independent contractor?

Holding:
Independent contractor. Thus, Sun is NOT liable.

Reasoning:
Sun did not retain enough control of the details of Barone’s day-to-day operation so as to be liable.

  • “The areas of close contact between the two were simply because they had a mutual interest in the success of Barone’s business.”
  • “The contracts establish nothing more than a landlord-tenant or independent contractor arrangement, and there was nothing in their conduct to hold otherwise.”
  • “The advice offered to Barone was done on his request, and he was under no obligation to follow the advice.”

This case was just like Humble Oil & Refining Co. v. Martin but with a different outcome. A distinction can be made in that in Humble, advice/recommendations regarding the day-to-day operations were required, whereas here there was no obligation.