Re/ Max International, Inc. (Re/ Max), is the owner and licensor of Re/ Max trademarks and sells Re/ Max franchises. Re/ Max, through a sub-franchisor, granted a franchise to Re/ Max Midtown to operate a Re/ Max franchise in Illinois (the franchisee). The Re/ Max franchise agreement provided that the franchisee was an independent contractor and was not an agent of Re/ Max. Nascimento was a licensed real estate sales agent that was hired by the franchisee. Nascimento was an independent contractor of the franchisee. The franchisee had no daily control over Nascimento’s activities. He could find and list houses for sale and show houses to prospective buyers, but he was not required to attend any office meetings or to keep time in the office or to work a specific number of hours per week. The franchisee did not provide him with any employment benefits. Nascimento was paid commissions on houses he sold and owed the franchisee a fee for each house he sold. Nascimento was to use his own car in showing properties and was to personally purchase insurance on the car. One of Nascimento’s prospective clients was Ana Maria de Oliveira Fernandes. Nascimento gave Fernandes a business card that stated that the franchisee he worked for was an independent contractor. One day while Nascimento was driving Fernandes to look at real estate properties, Nascimento’s car collided with another vehicle, and Fernandes was seriously injured. At the time of the accident, Nascimento had failed to pay his insurance premium, and his insurance coverage had lapsed. Fernandes sued Re/ Max, alleging that Nascimento was the actual or apparent agent of Re/ Max and therefore that Re/ Max was liable to her for her injuries. Re/ Max defended, asserting that Nascimento was not its actual or apparent agent. Is Re/ Max liable for the automobile accident caused by Nascimento? Oliveira Brooks v. Re/ Max International, 865 N. E. 2d 252, 2007 Ill. App. Lexis 250 (Appellate Court of Illinois, 2007)
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