Vince v. Wilson

151 Vt. 425, 561 A.2d 103 (1989)



The tort of negligent entrustment is recognized in Vermont. Such liability arises out of the combined negligence of both the one who entrusts an automobile to an incompetent driver and the driver.


Defendant individual provided funding for her grandnephew to purchase a vehicle. The grandnephew had no drivers license and had failed the driver's test several times.  Defendants dealership and salesman sold the car. to the grandnephew.  Plaintiff was injured in an accident while a passenger in the car.  Plaintiff filed an action against defendants. The trial court directed verdicts for the dealership and the salesman. The claim against the individual was submitted to the jury, which returned a verdict for plaintiff. On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment against the individual. The court reversed the judgment as against the dealership and the salesman. The matter was remanded for further consistent proceedings.



Was there evidence of negligent entrustment by the individual?




Evidence was sufficient to make out a prima facie case of negligent entrustment as to the individual and the trial court properly submitted the question to the jury. Verdicts should not have been directed for the dealership and salesman, however. There was evidence which, if believed by the jury, would establish that they knew the driver had no operator's license and that he had failed the driver's test several times. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the evidence tended to show negligence on the part of the dealership and salesman, and the issue should have been determined by the jury.

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