Willamette Law Online

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Eads v. Borman

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-26-2012
Case #: S058445
Linder, J. for the Court; En Banc; De Muniz, C.J. concurring.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/S058445.pdf

Tort Law: An entity may be held vicariously liable for a physician’s negligence on the theory of apparent agency when: (1) the entity holds out the physician as an agent delivering medical services on behalf of the entity subject to oversight and control of the entity; and (2) the injured plaintiff reasonably relied on these representations, which led him to believe the entity was the provider of care.

Dr. Borman (Borman) performed spinal surgery on Eads that resulted in Eads’s permanent and disabling injuries. Borman leased office space from Willamette Spinal Center (WSC) and Eads sued WSC for vicarious liability on the basis of apparent authority. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for WSC. In order to succeed on an apparent agency theory, Eads would have had to reasonably believe that WSC was in the business of delivering medical services, rather than merely a building that housed independent medical providers. The WSC sign on the building and the WSC logo on Borman’s business card only created the appearance of an affiliation. They were insufficient to create the appearance that WSC had any oversight or control over Borman. Furthermore, Borman had his own contact information, letterhead, billing, staff, and performed the surgery at a local hospital. The Supreme Court held the record was inadequate to permit a jury to hold WSC liable for Borman’s negligent surgery on an apparent agency theory. Affirmed.