Friday, April 15, 2016

Law of Negligent Entrustment Reviewed by Judge Zulick of Monroe County


For a recent case on the law of negligent entrustment in Pennsylvania, see Judge Arthur Zulick’s Opinion in the case of Waldron v. McHugh, PICS Case No. 16-0296 (C.P. Monroe Co. Nov. 19, 2015 Zulick, J.).  In his Opinion, Judge Arthur L. Zulick found that the car owner was not liable for injuries arising out of an accident based upon a theory of negligent entrustment.

In this matter, the vehicle was owned by grandparents who had given permission to their grandson to drive the vehicle.  At the time of the accident, the vehicle was actually being driven by the grandson’s live-in girlfriend. 

According to the court’s Opinion, the grandparent did not give the girlfriend permission to use the vehicle.   At the time of the accident, the grandson had possession of the grandparent’s vehicle as his vehicle was in the shop.   On the night in question, the girlfriend used the grandparent’s vehicle to go to the grocery store when the collision occurred.   This was the first time that the girlfriend had driven the vehicle.   It was alleged that she drove the vehicle with the permission of her live-in boyfriend.  

The Plaintiff asserted that the grandparents had granted very general permission to use the vehicle to their children and their grandchildren, allegedly including permission for them to allow others to drive the vehicle without further notice to the grandparent.   The Plaintiff further argued that the jury could infer that the grandparent intended that the same permission granted to the grandson extended to the girlfriend.

The court found no evidence to support these allegations.   After reviewing the law of negligent entrustment, the court also noted that the Plaintiff failed to present evidence to meet the other elements of a claim for negligence entrustment.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may email me at dancummins@comcast.net. 

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 15, 2016).

 

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