Lero v. State Farm: Brief on Negligent Entrustment

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Lero v. State Farm et al

Brief on Negligent Entrustment

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CASS COUNTY, MISSOURI

 

PAUL LERO and               )
CAROLYN LERO,               )
                            )
Plaintiffs,                 )
                            )
        v.                  )	Case No.  09CA-CV00669
                            )
ADAM P. MACE, et. al        )
                            )
Defendants.                 )

 

PLAINTIFFS’ TRIAL BRIEF ON NEGLIGENT ENTRUSTMENT

COME NOW plaintiffs and respectfully submit this trial brief on the elements of negligent entrustment.
The Missouri Supreme Court in Evans v. Allen Auto Rental and Truck Leasing, Inc., 555 W.W.2d 325 (Mo. S.C. 1977) held that there are four necessary elements to the tort of negligent entrustment:
(1) that the entrustee is incompetent by reason of age, inexperience, habitual recklessness or otherwise;
(2) that the entrustor knew or had reason to know of the entrustee’s incompetence;
(3) that there was an entrustment of the chattel; and
(4) that the negligence of the entrustor concurred with the conduct of the entrustee as a proximate cause of the harm to plaintiff.

To prove the first element of negligent entrustment, it must be proved that the entrustee was incompetent by reason of age, inexperience, or habitual recklessness. Here Plaintiff alleges that entrustee was incompetent to drive due to habitual recklessness. “The possession of a valid driver’s license is not proof that one is competent to drive.” LeClave v. Hardy 73 S.W.3d 637 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002). “Missouri, with other states, recognizes that a history of traffic violations is powerful evidence that a driver is incompetent.” Id. at 641.
To prove the second element of negligent entrustment Plaintiff must prove the entrustor knew or had reason to know of the entrustee’s incompetence. In LeClave v. Hardy , the entrustor knew that entrustee was specifically excluded from entrustor’s insurance coverage. Id. at 645. This was used to demonstrate that entrustor knew or should have known of the risk in entrusting his vehicle to entrustee.
To prove the third element of negligent entrustment, the Plaintiff must prove that actual entrustment of the vehicle from entrustor to entrustee. Actual entrustment can be either express or implied.
Express entrustment occurs when words or acts, such as handing over the vehicle keys, create entrustment. Implied entrustment “may be based on a course of conduct, the relationship between the parties, or lack of objection that indicates existence of consent”. Id. at 646. This can occur when the entrustor leaves the keys in the vehicle ignition or customarily allows entrustee to drive the vehicle.
An entrustor expressly denying permission to the entrustee to use the vehicle does not necessarily prove a lack of entrustment if there is sufficient indirect evidence for a jury to find that there was implied permission. Id. at 646.

THE LAW OFFICES OF STEPHEN R. BOUGH.
¬
By ______________________
Stephen R. Bough, #46239
917 W. 43RD Street, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64111
(816) 931-0048
(816) 931-4803 FAX
Stephen@boughlawfirm.com

MCCAMBRIDGE LAW LLC

By_______________________
Kelly McCambridge, #60839
1308 NE Windsor Drive
Lee’s Summit, MO 64086
(816) 875-2386
(816) 875-2388
Kelly@mccambridgelaw.com

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

Signature of this document certifies that it was served to the persons named below on the date and in the manner indicated:

Person Served Party Date Method

Randy Cain Defendants Adam Mace, et al 10/ /09 Hand Delivery
Law Office of Cain and Cain, P.C.
4971 NE Goodview Circle
Suite 400
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064
(816) 795-7714
(816) 478-4646

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