February 10, 2020
Plaintiff Bennett Sell-Kline filed a negligence action against Defendants, Peter Anthony Troncale and Tomovich & Associates, for damages arising out of an automobile accident. Plaintiff alleged Tomovich was liable for Plaintiff’s serious orthopedic injuries sustained in a vehicle accident (a) under a vicarious liability theory as Troncale’s employer, and (b) under a permissive use theory given the accident occurred in a company vehicle.
Burnham Brown filed a motion for summary judgment arguing there was no evidence of liability because Troncale took the vehicle without permission and was not working at the time of the accident. Plaintiff opposed the motion and argued Tomovich was liable because it gave Troncale implied permission to use the vehicle. It also argued that Tomovich was negligent for failing to safeguard the vehicle keys or implement written policies and procedures regarding vehicle use. Plaintiff also argued that Tomovich was liable under the special circumstances doctrine. The Court granted the motion for summary judgment, ruling that there was no triable issue of material fact on vicarious liability and permissive use. It also ruled that the special circumstances doctrine did not apply to the case facts. The Los Angeles Superior Court is a venue known for denying dispositive motions, and this was the second dispositive motion won by the commercial automobile team of Paul Caleo and Lynn Rivera in the last 6 months.