Virginia: Car Accident – a Lawyer’s Entrustment

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In O’Brien v. Glenn, 80 Va. Cir. 188 (Rockingham Feb. 17, 2010), Rockingham Circuit Court opined on the tort of “negligent entrustment” in a car accident case. Defendant relied on the Virginia Supreme Court’s test in Denby v. Davis, 212 Va. 836, 838 (1972)(emphasis in original): “whether the owner knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that he was entrusting his car to an unfit driver likely to cause injury to others”.
However, O’Brien noted that subsequently the Virginia Supreme Court in Turner v. Lotts, 244 Va. 554 (1992) “recognized that past negligent acts, if sufficiently proven, could make a driver ‘unfit’ under the Denby test”. 80 Va. Cir. at 189. Thus, the circuit court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding plaintiff’s allegations that the owner knew about the driver’s pre-accident “reckless conduct” behind his wheel sufficed for the car crash action.