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Ishiguro v PARTA

The Pennsylvania Area Regional Transit Authority (PARTA) is a public transportation authority that has its principal place of business at 9712 Lancaster Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   PARTA operates bus, rapid transit, commuter light rail, trains, and electric trolleybus services for nearly 4 million people in five counties in and around Philadelphia, PA.

PARTA also provides commuter rail service to Delaware and New Jersey.  PARTA trains and buses do not serve New York state, but PARTA does sell transit tickets from a New Jersey Transit window at New York’s Penn Station in New York City, NY.

Kenichi Ishiguro is a 55-year-old resident of New York City, who does not speak English.  On October 18, 2021, he boarded a PARTA train in Philadelphia traveling to Wilmington, Delaware.  Ishiguro claims that when he reached his destination, the train was leaning to one side, creating a dangerous gap between the train and the platform.   As he tried to step from the train over the gap to the platform, Ishiguro said he fell onto the platform and dislocated his right wrist.  Ishiguro claims that as a result of his injuries, he needed two surgeries and had to leave his job as a sushi chef.   

In February 2022, Ishiguro sued PARTA in New York state court.  His complaint alleges that PARTA was negligent in operating its commuter train from Philadelphia to Wilmington, Delaware, resulting in his wrist injuries, his medical expenses, and his loss of income.  PARTA moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the NY trial court where Ishiguro filed his lawsuit lacked personal jurisdiction over PARTA, an out-of-state defendant.

Section 302 of New York Consolidated Laws, Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR 302) is the state’s
long-arm statute, which grants New York courts
personal jurisdiction over non-residents (called non-domiciliaries in the statute) for certain specified acts, specifically where a non-domiciled defendant

1. transacts any business within the state or contracts anywhere to supply goods or services in the state;  or

2. commits a tortious act within the state, except as to a cause of action for defamation of character arising from the act;  or

3. commits a tortious act outside the state causing injury to person or property within the state … if he

(i) regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed or services rendered, in the state, or

(ii) expects or should reasonably expect the act to have consequences in the state and derives substantial revenue from interstate or international commerce; …

You are the judge of the NY state trial court assigned to this case.  How do you rule on PARTA’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction?  

FIRAC Pap


FACTS

As a receptionist at 123 Corporation’s corporate office, Deborah performed various administrative duties such as greeting customers, answering phone calls, sorting the mail, and responding to general questions about the company. One day when none of 123’s managers were in the office, an ABC Insurance Co. sales representative went to 123’s corporate office hoping to convince 123 to replace its current employee health insurance plan with ABC’s plan. Even though Deborah told the representative that none of 123’s managers were available, the representative explained ABC’s employee health insurance plan to Deborah who commented that ABC’s plan sounded better than 123’s current employee health insurance plan. , The representative then gave Deborah a contract to sign to purchase ABC’s health insurance plan for 123’s employees. Deborah sign the contract.


ISSUE

Under state law, can a corporation be bound to an employee health insurance contract signed by the corporation’s receptionist when none of the company’s managers were at the office?


RULE

An agent is a person who has authority to speak and act on behalf of an entity or another person. An agent’s authority may be actual or apparent. Under state law, actual authority is “the agent’s power or responsibility expressly or impliedly communicated by the principal to the agent.” Express actual authority includes the instructions and directions from the principal to the agent. Implied actual authority is the agent’s ability to do whatever is reasonable to assume that the principal wanted the agent to do in order to carry out his or her express actual authority.

Apparent authority arises when the principal’s conduct, past dealings, or communications cause a third party to reasonably believe that the agent is authorized to act or do something on behalf of the principal. This type of authority can arise when there is a past contractual agreement between a company and a third party, and it was the company’s agent who entered into the contractual agreement. This type of authority can also arise when a company has communicated to a third party that the company’s agent has the authority to enter into a contractual agreement.


APPLICATION

123 gave Deborah actual authority by expressly communicating her duties to her when it hired her as a receptionist, e.g., greeting customers, answering phone calls, sorting the mail, and answering general questions regarding 123. Deborah also had implied actual authority to do whatever is reasonably related to her duties as a receptionist. Deborah could act on her implied actual authority by performing other administrative duties. She could have scheduled appointments for 123’s managers, order lunches, or accept packages. Thus, Deborah is an agent for 123 when she is performing her duties as the receptionist. Howe

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