The Third Department affirmed the denial of the hotel defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff was severely injured and her husband was killed when the snowmobile they were using was struck by a car. The hotel promoted snowmobile tours. All the arrangements for the tour were made by the plaintiffs and hotel personnel. The actual tour was conducted by Adirondack Snowmobile Rental (ASR). The tour guide, driving the lead snowmobile, crossed a road without waiting for plaintiff and plaintiff’s decedent, who were following. Plaintiff and plaintiff’s decedent were struck by a car when they attempted to cross the road. The Third Department determined plaintiff had stated a cause of action in negligence against the hotel defendants, alleging the hotel defendants were vicariously liable for the negligence of ASR under an apparent agency theory:
… “[I]t is fundamental to the principal/agent relationship that [a principal] is liable to a third person for the wrongful or negligent acts . . . of its agent when made within the general or apparent scope of the agent’s authority” … . To establish a negligence claim based upon an apparent agency theory, a plaintiff must show evidence of “words or conduct of the principal . . . communicated to a third party, which give rise to a reasonable belief and appearance that the agent possesses authority to [act on the principal’s behalf]” … .
Here, the evidence includes a screenshot of the resort’s website that can be read to suggest that snowmobiling is a service provided by defendants’ agents or employees, as it is listed among the winter activities available on the premises. … [P]laintiff stated that she and decedent only dealt with the resort staff in organizing the tour and had never heard of ASR prior to the tour’s commencement. Viewing this evidence in a light most favorable to plaintiff as the nonmoving party, we find that Supreme Court properly denied the portion of defendants’ motion seeking dismissal of plaintiff’s negligence claim based upon the doctrine of apparent agency. In our view, defendants’ promotional materials, together with the testimony regarding the overall experience that defendants and their staff strive to provide for guests of the resort, create a question of fact as to whether plaintiff could have reasonably believed that ASR possessed the authority to conduct the snowmobile tour as defendants’ agent … . Taylor v The Point at Saranac Lake, Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 00247, 3rd Dept 1-14-16
NEGLGENCE (TORT LIABILITY ARISING FROM CONTRACT, AND INTERVENING, SUPERSEDING CAUSE OF INJURY EXPLAINED)/CONTRACT LAW (TORT LIABILITY TO THIRD PERSONS EXPLAINED)/INTERVENING, SUPERSEDING CAUSE OF INJURY (CRITERIA EXPLAINED)/SUPERSEDING CAUSE OF INJURY (CRITERIA EXPLAINED)