Negligent Entrustment Claims

What does it take for someone in Weatherford, Aledo, Dallas, Mesquite, Garland, or some other city in Texas to be guilty in negligently entrusting their vehicle to another person? What happens if you sue someone for negligent entrustment and a court finds that you should not have sued for that reason?
The Texas Court of Appeals in Austin, decided a case on August 1, 2008, that addresses both questions. The style of the case is, T. Christopher Robson v. Garrett Gilbreath and David Gilbreath.
In this case, the driver of a car, Garrett Gilbreath, struck and killed Elizabeth Daley a relative of Christopher Robson. The owner of the car was David Gilbreath, the father of Garrett. Robson asserted that David was guilty of “negligently entrusting a large vehicle, such as his Chevrolet Suburban, to a sixteen year old minor, Garrett, who had little driving experience.”
The attorneys for the Gilbreath’s requested that the attorney for Robson, dismiss the negligent entrustment claim because there was no legal basis for maintaining that claim. The attorneys for Gilbreath maintained that the cause of action against David was groundless and without merit.
“Negligent entrustment” is defined by USLegal in the following:
Negligent entrustment is a concept in tort law that arises where one party (the entrustor) is found responsible for negligently providing another party (the entrustee) with a dangerous instrumentality, and the entrusted party caused injury to a third party with that instrumentality. The issue typically arises in the context of a person allowing another to drive their automobile.
Texas case law says that to establish negligent entrustment of an automobile, a plaintiff must prove the following elements:
1) the owner entrusted the automobile,
2) to a person who was an unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless driver,
3) who the owner knew or should have known was incompetent or reckless,
4) the driver was negligent, and
5) the driver’s negligence proximately caused the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries.
The above is stated the Texas Appeals Court – Houston [1st Dist] and by the Texas Supreme Court.
The elements set forth above were not stated as reasons Robson had for sueing David. Rather he relied on the basis that David “negligently entrusted a large vehicle, such as his Chevrolet Suburban, to a sixteen year old minor who had little driving experience.”
In this case, Robson was sanctioned by the trial court Judge with a $10,000 fine for failure to conduct a reasonable inquiry prior to filing a negligent entrustment claim against David.
This case discusses elements for justifying the $10,000 fine and is necesary reading before filing lawsuits for reasons that may not be fully justified under existing law.