Injury victims cannot sue Enterprise Leasing for negligent entrustment; Saad strikes again
This week, Henry Saad signed on to another opinion making quick work of two injury victims' claims. His panel of the Court of Appeals upheld the summary disposition of injury claims brought by Tory Nixon and Pierre Jackson against the owner of a rental car. The two men argued that Enterprise Leasing had negligently entrusted the leased vehciele to Briana Buchanan pursuant to a scheme that made the car available to alleged drug dealers.
The Court of Appeals upheld Enterprise's argument that the injured men couldn't sue for negligent entrustment because they could not prove who was actually driving the vehicle at the time of the collision--as though the parties to the lease couldn't be negligent without proof of the name of the final driver. So, if I hand my keys to a nine-year-old and a group of friends and tell them to "have fun," I'm not negligent as a matter of law unless I can tell which of the little kids was driving when a fatality occurs?
Sadly, Judge Saad and some others are so eager to strike down injury claims, they are willing to make up dispositive "rules" as they go. In this case, the opinion mis-cites an Allstate Insurance Company case to support its analysis of "obvious shortcomings" in the plaintiff's' proofs. In fact, the only "obvious shortcoming" is in the depth of analysis in the published opinion of the Court. In fact, no previously published case supports the claim that to prove "negligent entrustment" the victim must document the "chain" of possession of a potentially deadly instrument. If I hand a gun, or a stick of dynamite, or in some cases a vehicle, to a known incompetent or dangerous person, that satisfies the law and displays a breach of due care: If someone can prove that my "negligent entrustment" caused harm, they need not identify the final actor.