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This year's problem involves a tragic car accident that killed three teenagers. Stephanie Jones, the 19-year old driver, was a sales consultant for a beverage company, Energee Drink Company. On the night in question, she was driving two of her friends, Harold Richmond and Cynthia Johanssen, also 19 years old, who were considering becoming sales consultants, to an Energee marketing meeting late at night. Upon leaving the meeting, Stephanie's car crossed over railroad tracks located adjacent to Energee's property when it was struck by a train operated by the Hollis Regional Railroad; all of the occupants, including Stephanie, Harold and Cynthia, were killed.
The mothers of Harold and Cynthia sued Energee and Stephanie's estate for wrongful death, arguing a) that Energee was responsible for Stephanie's negligence because she was Energee's employee at the time of the accident, and b) that Energee was liable for failure to warn of the dangerous condition of the railroad crossing because, although Energee did not own the property where the tracks lay, Energee exercised control over the railroad crossing.
Energee moved for summary judgment on both issues, arguing a) that Stephanie was not their employee but was an independent contractor, and b) that the crossing and the property on which it was located were owned and operated by the Hollis Regional Railroad, and that Energee did not control the crossing to a legally sufficient degree to incur liability.
The trial court agreed with Energee and granted summary judgment on both issues; the mothers appealed.
We ask that teams restrict briefs and arguments to the following issues:
1. Was the trial court correct to grant summary judgment for defendant on the ground that there was no triable issue of material fact as to whether Jones was an employee of defendant ENERGEE at the time of the incident?
2. Was the trial court correct to grant summary judgment for defendant on the ground that there was no triable issue of material fact as to whether defendant ENERGEE owed a duty of care with regard to the railroad crossing located adjacent to its property?