Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Since the advent of the automobile, travel by motor vehicle has been ever-increasingly prevalent, and consumption of gasoline in the large amounts so required' has necessitated the existence of a great number of retail service stations. For various reasons the major producers of petroleum products have thought it desirable to retain some connection with the distribution of their products until those products pass to the hands of consumers, and consequently nearly all such major producers have established extensive systems of retail outlets which sell only that producer's products and under its exclusive trade names. Because of the great number of these stations and the nature of activity there conducted it is only natural that many injuries to third parties occur as a result of tortious conduct on the part of operators of those stations or their employees. And in view of the obvious fact that some connection exists between the producer and the operator, and the fact that the producer usually has a deeper pocket, it is not surprising that many attempts have been made to hold the producer liable for injuries so resulting. These attempts, usually based on a theory of the existence of a master-and-servant relationship calling into play the doctrine of respondeat superior, have met with varied success.