Western Section Reverses SJ in Negligent Entrustment Case

The Court of Appeals for the Western Section has said that a plaintiff in a wrongful death case has made out a claim of negligent entrustment of a vehicle against the parents of a drunk driver.

Here are some essential facts viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff: 

"Like the defendant in  [v. East Tennessee Pioneer Oil], in this case the [defendant]Johnsons clearly provided and controlled the means by which [their son the defendant] Jack was able to operate the vehicle. Regardless of whether the Johnsons purchased the vehicle from Ms. King and subsequently entrusted it to Jack,   [The plaintiff] Mr. Watrous has presented evidence that the Johnsons repaid a loan Jack had taken against the title to the vehicle the day before it became due. The Johnsons do not dispute that, had they not paid off the title loan, the Concorde would nave been repossessed by Tennessee Title Loans. Thus, as Mr. Watrous asserts, the Johnsons essentially “re-purchased” the Concorde from Tennessee Title Loans and provided it to Jack. Further, it is undisputed that Jack had no access to funds other than his student loans and those provided by the Johnsons, that the Johnsons provided Jack with the funds to repay loans that had become due, and that the Johnsons paid virtually all of Jack’s expenses. The Johnsons do not dispute that they had knowledge of Jack’s history of driving under the influence, or that Ms. Johnson provided Jack with a check in the amount of $100 to be cashed at a gas station the night on which Jack struck and killed Ms. Watrous."

The case is Watrous v. Johnson,   No. W2007-00814-COA-R3-CV  (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 17, 2007).  Read it here.

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