Bevacqua v. Union Pac. R.R. Co – Case Brief Summary (Montana)

In Bevacqua v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 289 Mont. 36, 960 P.2d 273 (1998), the plaintiff underwent several physical examinations at the direction of Union Pacific by doctors specifically designated by Union Pacific.

The doctors set forth the plaintiff's physical condition in forms which were provided by Union Pacific and which contained the Union Pacific logo. The doctors, however, repeatedly failed to accurately diagnose the plaintiff's knee injury.

In addressing Union Pacific's control of the plaintiff's medical treatment, the Montana Supreme Court stated:

"UP most certainly had a hand in setting the standards for the employment physicals and, since UP undertook to give these physical examinations, UP is liable for any negligence that occurred in those examinations. Even though the doctors were independent physicians, they were requested by UP to examine Bevacqua to determine if he was capable of continuing to work, thus it cannot be said that the doctors who examined Bevacqua at UP's request acted without authority or on their own."

The court then held that the doctors were agents of Union Pacific. Id., 289 Mont. at 53, 960 P.2d at 283. Consequently, Union Pacific was held responsible for the misrepresentations of the doctors and ultimately estopped from relying on an expired statute of limitations to escape liability for its negligence. Id.