Benton v. Regeser

In Benton v. Regeser, 20 Ariz. 273, 179 P. 966 (1919) Regeser was riding his bicycle and was injured when a minor, Bryan Benton, negligently drove a truck into him. The truck belonged to Bryan's father, R.L. Benton. Id. at 275, 179 P. at 966. The complaint alleged that Bryan was acting as R.L.'s agent and "was operating the car at the time of the accident in the business of his father." Id. at 274, 179 P. at 966. The issue in the case was cast as whether Bryan's father could be held liable for Bryan's negligence "under the doctrine of respondeat superior." Id. at 275, 179 P. at 967. The court noted that R.L. Benton kept and maintained the truck "for the use of the members of his family, and for their pleasure and convenience." Id. Bryan had been using the truck that morning to drop his sisters off at one church and to pick up his brother from another. Id. Whether those facts were sufficient for "a parent . . . to be held liable for the negligence of his minor son" was a question that had "never been decided" in Arizona. Id. at 276, 179 P. at 967. The court found that they were sufficient under the new rule: A father who furnishes an automobile for the pleasure and convenience of the members of his family makes the use of the machine for the above purposes his affair or business, and that any member of the family driving the machine with the father's consent, either express or implied, is the father's agent. Id. at 278, 179 P. at 968.