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Moren v. JAX Restaurant

April 27, 2004

MARTIN MOREN, AS PARENT AND GUARDIAN OF REMINGTON MOREN, A MINOR, RESPONDENT,
v.
JAX RESTAURANT, APPELLANT, JOHN DOE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, AND JAX RESTAURANT, DEFENDANT AND THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF, APPELLANT, V. NICOLE MOREN, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT, RESPONDENT.



Benton County District Court File No. C3-02-413

Considered and decided by Hudson , Presiding Judge, Willis , Judge, and Crippen , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Under Minnesota law dealing with the negligence of a partner, the partnership is liable to the injured party and is also liable to indemnify the acting partner. This liability is declared by statute for all conduct occurring in the ordinary course of business, even if this conduct also partly serves the partner's personal interests.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crippen, Judge*fn1

Affirmed

OPINION

Remington Moren, through his father, commenced a negligence action against appellant Jax Restaurant for injures he sustained while on appellant's premises. The district court granted a summary judgment, dismissing appellant's third-party negligence complaint against respondent Nicole Moren, a partner in Jax Restaurant and the mother of Remington Moren. Because the court correctly determined that liability for Nicole Moren's negligence rested with the partnership, even if the partner's conduct partly served her personal interests, we affirm.

FACTS

Jax Restaurant, the partnership, operates its business in Foley, Minnesota. One afternoon in October 2000, Nicole Moren, one of the Jax partners, completed her day shift at Jax at 4:00 p.m. and left to pick up her two-year-old son Remington from day care. At about 5:30, Moren returned to the restaurant with Remington after learning that her sister and partner, Amy Benedetti, needed help. Moren called her husband who told her that he would pick Remington up in about 20 minutes.

Because Nicole Moren did not want Remington running around the restaurant, she brought him into the kitchen with her, set him on top of the counter, and began rolling out pizza dough using the dough-pressing machine. As she was making pizzas, Remington reached his hand into the dough press. His hand was crushed, and he sustained permanent injuries.

Through his father, Remington commenced a negligence action against the partnership. The partnership served a third-party complaint on Nicole Moren, arguing that, in the event it was obligated to compensate Remington, the partnership was entitled to indemnity or contribution from Moren for her negligence. The district court's summary judgment was premised on a legal conclusion that Moren has no obligation to indemnify Jax Restaurant so long as the injury occurred while she was engaged in ordinary business conduct. The district court rejected the partnership's argument that its obligation to compensate Remington is diminished in proportion to the predominating negligence of Moren as a mother, although it is responsible for her conduct as a business owner. This appeal followed.

ISSUE

Does Jax Restaurant have an indemnity right against Nicole Moren in the ...


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