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Continental Auto Lease Corporation v. Campbell

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Continental Auto Lease Corporation (plaintiff) sued Campbell (defendant) for negligence.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A plaintiff may only be barred from recovery for contributory negligence if they had control over the contributory negligent person.

    Facts.

    Kamman rented a car from the defendant. Kamman got into an accident with Ralph Shepard while driving. Days later Shepard died. The plaintiff sued to recover damages to their car, which were attributed to the accident. The plaintiff substituted the administrator of Shepard’s estate, and substituted her as the defendant, and the trial court held that both drivers were liable for the damages attributed to the accident. The defendant argued that the plaintiff contributed to the negligence, and thus was barred from recovery.

    Issue.

    Whether a plaintiff may only be barred from recovery for contributory negligence if they had control if they control over the contributory negligent person.

    Held.

    Yes. A plaintiff may only be barred from recovery for contributory negligence if they had control if they control over the contributory negligent person.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    In cases where a plaintiff has control over a contributorily negligent person, that plaintiff will be barred from recovery. Those occurs when a car owner sues a separate person who was driving their vehicle and damages it. A plaintiff cannot be liable based on the sole fact that they allowed another person to operate their vehicle, and while operating that vehicle, that person is negligent. There must be a special relationship between the driver and the car owner. Here, the plaintiff cannot be liable solely because they rented a vehicle to the driver.


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