Martin K. Morrissey and Tori L. Walls Secure Summary Judgment on Negligent Entrustment/Wrongful Death Claim in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Herndon, J., recently granted summary judgment in favor of Reed, Armstrong’s client in a negligent entrustment/wrongful death claim. The plaintiff originally filed the case in Madison County Circuit Court, and Reed Armstrong removed it to Federal District Court based on diversity jurisdiction. At the close of discovery, Reed, Armstrong, Partners Martin K. Morrissey and Tori L. Walls moved for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proving the decedent lacked the competence, experience and/or skill to operate the vehicle at the time of her death and failed to prove defendant was aware or should have been aware of any alleged incompetence, inexperience and/or skill on the part of the decedent. The Court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff failed to come forward with evidence to support her claim for negligent entrustment. The Court found that although the defendant entrusted the vehicle to the decedent, there was no evidence in the record to establish that the decedent was incompetent or unfit to operate the vehicle nor any evidence the defendant knew or should have known of any incompetence prior to the entrustment.