April 21, 2021
In Bennett Sell-Kline v. Peter Troncale, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. 18STCV08100, plaintiff Bennett Sell-Kline filed a negligence action against defendants, Peter Anthony Troncale and his employer Tomovich & Associates, for serious injuries and damages arising out of a collision between the plaintiff’s vehicle and a truck driven by defendant Troncale that was owned by his employer. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant employer Tomovich & Associates was liable for the plaintiff’s serious orthopedic injuries under theories of (a) vicarious liability as Troncale’s employer, and (b) a permissive use theory, given the accident occurred in a company vehicle.
On behalf of its client, Tomovich & Associates, DRI members Paul Caleo and Lynn Rivera of 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. The plaintiff opposed the motion and argued that 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. The 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 six months.
See article in DRI The Voice, Vol.20, Issue 6, April 21, 2021.