Case Problem with Sample Answer




Дата канвертавання19.04.2016
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22-5. Case Problem with Sample Answer
Ford Motor Credit Co. is a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co. with its own offices, officers, and directors. Ford Credit buys contracts and leases of automobiles entered into by dealers and consumers. Ford Credit also provides inventory financing for dealers’ purchases of Ford and non-Ford vehicles and makes loans to Ford and non-Ford dealers. Dealers and consumers are not required to finance their purchases or leases of Ford vehicles through Ford Credit. Ford Motor is not a party to the agreements between Ford Credit and its customers and does not directly receive any payments under those agreements. Also, Ford Credit is not subject to any agreement with Ford Motor “restricting or conditioning” its ability to finance the dealers’ inventories or the consumers’ purchases or leases of vehicles. A number of plaintiffs filed a product liability suit in a Missouri state court against Ford Motor. Ford Motor claimed that the court did not have venue. The plaintiffs asserted that Ford Credit, which had an office in the jurisdiction, acted as Ford’s “agent for the transaction of its usual and customary business” there. Is Ford Credit an agent of Ford Motor? Discuss. [State ex rel. Ford Motor Co. v. Bacon, 63 S.W.3d 641 (Mo. 2002)]
22-5. Answer
The court held that Ford Motor could be sued in the jurisdiction in which the suit was filed, on the basis that Ford Credit operated as the defendant’s agent there. Ford Motor appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which reversed this determination. The state supreme court explained, “A corporation does not become an agent of another corporation merely because a majority of its voting shares is held by the other. Therefore, an agency relationship between a parent and its subsidiary may only be established if the elements of an agency relationship exist.” Among the elements establishing an agency relationship is that the purported agent hold the power to alter legal relations between the principal and a third party. That element was lacking in this case. The court cited in particular that Ford Motor is not a party to any of Ford Credit’s financing contracts and that Ford Credit is not subject to any agreement with Ford Motor “restricting or conditioning” its ability to finance the dealers’ inventories or the customers’ purchases or leases of vehicles. These facts “establish that Ford Credit has no power to alter legal relations between Ford Motor Company and third parties. Therefore, Ford Credit does not act as agent for Ford Motor.”


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