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Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Booth, George


AC44524 - Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. (Negligent entrustment; summary judgment; "The plaintiffs, John S. Adams and Mary Lou Hanney, brought the underlying action as coadministrators of the estate of their son, Ryan Michael Adams, who was eighteen years old when he died on September 20, 2015, in the airplane crash that also claimed the life of the eighteen year old, newly licensed pilot of the airplane, Cathryn Depuy. The plaintiffs now appeal from the summary judgment rendered against them on the two counts of their complaint brought against the defendant James W. Depuy, the father of the deceased pilot, which sounded in negligence and negligent entrustment.

The plaintiffs claim on appeal that the trial court improperly rendered summary judgment with respect to the negligent entrustment count. In particular, they claim that genuine issues of material fact remain in dispute regarding the defendant's rental of the Cessna 150H airplane that his daughter was piloting when it crashed, which, the plaintiffs contend, if proven, would demonstrate that he had the requisite control over the airplane to establish that he negligently entrusted the airplane to his daughter. We conclude that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on the negligent entrustment count because the undisputed facts demonstrate that, assuming he rented the airplane for his daughter's use, he nevertheless lacked the necessary control over the airplane to meet an essential element of a cause of action sounding in negligent entrustment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court.")