Humble Oil & Refining Co. v. Martin
148 Tex. 175, 222 S.W.2d 995 (1949).

Facts:
Mrs. Love left her car at Humble’s station for servicing. Shortly after, it rolled off the premises and struck Mr. Martin and his children. Humble argued that it wasn’t liable because, although it owned the station, it was operated by an independent contractor, Schneider.

History:

  • The trial court held Humble and Love jointly and severally liable.
  • Court of Appeals affirmed.

Issue:
Was Schneider Humble’s servant?

Holding:
Yes.

Reasoning:
This is a question of fact, and the court found there to be enough evidence of Humble’s right or power to control the details of the station work:

  • Paragraph 1 includes a provision requiring Schneider to make reports and perform other duties that may be required by Humble.
  • Humble paid three-fourths of one of the most important operational expense items.
  • The main object of the enterprise was the retail marketing of Humble’s products with title remaining in Humble until delivery to the consumer.
  • This was done under a strict system of financial control and supervision by Humble, with little or no business discretion reposed in Schneider.

As above shown, the agreement required Schneider in effect to do anything Humble might tell him to do.

Restatement of the Law (Second) Agency § 220: Definition of Servant

(2) In determining whether one acting for another is a servant or an independent contractor, the following matters of fact, among others, are considered:

(a) the extent of control which, by the agreement, the master may exercise over the details of the work;
(b) whether or not the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business;
(c) the kind of occupation, with reference to whether in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision;
(d)  the skill required in the particular occupation;
(e)  whether the employer or the workman supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place of work for the person doing the work;
(f)  the length of time for which the person is employed;
(g)  the method of payment, whether by the time or by the job;
(h)  whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the employer;
(i)  whether or not the parties believe they are creating the relation of master and servant; and
(j) whether the principal is or is not in business.