Tuesday, July 17, 2007

S.C. Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeals in negligent entrustment case

In Gadsen v. ECO Services, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a directed verdict in a negligent entrustment case when an ECO employee drank a couple of wine coolers with friends and later one of the friends (John) drive the company vehicle. The vehicle then suffered a traffic accident. The sole evidence supporting the claim for negligent entrustment against Petitioner is the fact John had one or two wine coolers prior to driving. According to the Supreme Court:

Knowledge that a driver has had a drink or two is a far cry from meeting the first element of negligent entrustment that there be knowledge of or knowledge imputable to the owner that the driver was either addicted to intoxicants or had the habit of drinking. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Respondents, there was no support for the contention Petitioner, or even Respondent, for that matter, knew John was intoxicated; nor was there evidence Petitioner knew John had a habit of being intoxicated and driving.

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