McCary v. Wade, 861 So. 2d 358 (Miss. Ct. App. 2003)

Facts: McCary and Fulwiley were riding home in a van provided by their employer. The van was struck head-on by a logging truck driven by Dexter Myrick after Myrick swerved to avoid colliding with another driver who pulled out in front of him. McCary and Fulwiley were severely injured and sued all parties involved as well as Chris Wade and his company Wade Land Management (WLM). Wade had contracted with Georgia Pacific for sale of the timber and hired Myrick to transport the timber.

Issue: Whether Wade could be held vicariously liable for Myrick’s actions.

Holding: Myrick was an independent contractor. Therefore, Wade and WLM were not liable under respondeat superior for Myrick’s negligence.

Reasoning: The court examined the facts of the relationship between Myrick and WLM. For example, Myrick bought his own timber, cut it, and hauled it all himself. Myrick decided his own work hours and where he would work. Also, Myrick owned all of the equipment needed for his operation. The day of the accident, Myrick was en route to his home from Georgia Pacific. Furthermore, Wade “didn’t have to pay a cent” for Myrick’s cutting operation and only used ICs because he would have to pay for haulers’ trucks and operation costs.

McCary and Fulwiley raised the issue that Myrick should be found as an employee under public policy because Myrick was bankrupt and without insurance coverage. However, the court held that the public policy factor only becomes an issue when an employer and employee have a relationship that would ordinarily be characterized as an employer/employee but have a contract which defines their relationship as that of independent contractors. Here, the evidence actually showed that Myrick was an independent contractor.

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