United States District Court, D. New Mexico
EDMUNDO AMPARAN and KIMBERLY L. AMAPARN, Plaintiffs,
MEVLUT BERK DEMIR, DENIZCAN KARADENIZ, AVIS RENT A CAR SYSTEM, LLC LAKE POWELL CAR RENTAL COMPANIES an Arizona Limited Liability Company, PV HOLDING CORPORATION, a Delaware Corporation, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT AVIS
RENT A CAR SYSTEM, LLC'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON
PLAINTIFFS' CLAIM FOR NEGLIGENT ENTRUSTMENT AND GRANTING
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON PLAINTIFFS' CLAIM FOR
NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION AND TRAINING
MATTER comes before the Court on two of Defendant Avis Rent A
Car System LLC's motions: Motion for Summary Judgment on
Plaintiffs' Claim for Negligent Entrustment filed
November 4, 2016 (Doc. 106) and Motion for Summary Judgment
on Plaintiffs' Claim for Negligent Supervision and
Training filed November 4, 2016 (Doc. 107). Having reviewed
the relevant pleadings and the applicable law, and the oral
arguments of counsel presented at the hearing on February 8,
2017, the Court finds the Motions for Summary Judgment are
well-taken, and are therefore GRANTED.
litigation arises from a car accident that occurred on July
14, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a result of the
accident, Plaintiffs Edmundo Amparan and Kimberly L.
allege personal injury due to negligence; negligence per
se; negligent entrustment; negligent supervision and
training; mandatory statutory liability; and loss of
Lake Powell Car Rental Companies (“Lake Powell”)
is a licensee of Defendant Avis Rent A Car System, LLC
(“Avis”). Lake Powell is a sole member limited
liability company organized under the laws of Arizona and
located in Page, Arizona. Paul David Williams is the sole
member and owner of Lake Powell. Lake Powell operates under
an Exclusive License Agreement with Avis, which entitles Lake
Powell to use Avis' trade name, trademark, and business
operating system, and obligates Lake Powell to operate its
business in compliance with the Avis Systems Operation
Manual. The Agreement provides that Avis may terminate the
relationship with Lake Powell if Lake Powell fails to adhere
to the Agreement.
Powell does not have any employees other than the owner, Mr.
Williams. Mr. Williams was the only person working at Lake
Powell on July 14, 2014. Mr. Williams never received any
training at his store from anyone at Avis regarding
qualifying customers to rent vehicles. Mr. Williams has been
in the car rental industry for about 26 years. He uses a
software system called Wizard to operate his car rental
store. The Wizard system provides a manager such as Mr.
Williams to approve a driver under age 25. Wizard requires
entry of a valid credit card but does not validate a
driver's license or customer's date of birth.
14, 2014, Lake Powell and Defendant Denizcan Karadeniz
entered into a car rental transaction. Mr. Karadeniz rented
two vehicles, a Dodge Caravan and a Ford Mustang. Mert Tacir,
who accompanied Mr. Karadeniz, completed an “additional
driver” application and Lake Powell allowed Mr. Tacir
to operate the Ford Mustang. Mr. Tacir was the only
authorized additional driver. Mr. Karadeniz and Mr. Tacir
both presented facially-valid Turkish drivers' licenses
to Mr. Williams when renting the vehicles. Both drivers were
under age 25. Mr.
also presented a valid credit card. Mr. Karadeniz told Mr.
Williams he was renting the cars so that he and his group
could go sightseeing. Mr. Karadeniz stated he planned to
return the cars the following day to Lake Powell.
the rental transaction, Mr. Karadeniz and Mr. Tacir, together
with Mevlut Berkay Demir and some other individuals,
travelled to New Mexico in the two rental cars. At some point
during their trip, Mr. Demir was permitted to drive the Ford
Mustang and he collided with Mr. Amparan's motorcycle at
the intersection of Comanche and Wyoming in Albuquerque. Mr.
Demir allegedly failed to yield to the green light when
making a left turn in front of Mr. Amparan. Mr. Amparan's
motorcycle did not collide with the Dodge Caravan driven by
Mr. Karadeniz. After the accident, Mr. Demir testified that
he did not know that a driver turning left against a green
light must yield to oncoming traffic. Mr. Demir was 21 years
old. A driver's license number was recorded in the police
report from the accident, which indicated it was a Turkish
License Agreement requires that renters be at least 25 years
of age, though there are exceptions to this rule and a
manager can override the 25-year age requirement. Avis'
representative Ryan Honig testified that Avis licensees such
as Lake Powell retain ultimate discretion whether to rent a
vehicle to a customer, including a customer under age 25,
although Avis can provide guidance on the driver
qualification procedures. Mr. Honig explained Avis does not
provide guidance to licensees on renting to drivers under age
25 because the decision involves a case-by-case evaluation of
the circumstances, and ultimately the licensee must feel
comfortable with the circumstances. Plaintiffs state that
Avis' rules do not allow a renter under the age of 25 and
that no exceptions applied to this case, so Lake Powell
violated Avis' policies.Mr. Williams has rented to drivers
under age 25 in the past when the renter is a local
individual who he is familiar with, is someone renting the
car for a business purpose, has insurance on their own
vehicle, and a valid credit card. In this case, he believed
Mr. Karadeniz and his group were employees of a local
company, were 21, and presented a valid credit card and
drivers' licenses, which is why he chose to allow them to
rent the cars.
Plaintiffs incorporate by reference in the Response the
report of James S. Tennant, an expert in the vehicle rental
industry. Mr. Tennant opines that the “failure to
properly qualify potential renters will result in danger to
the public by having irresponsible and potentially dangerous
persons driving rental cars.” Doc. 117-5 at 2. Mr.
Tennant further explains that “many rental businesses
in the industry will only rent to persons over 25 years of
age” because “drivers over 25 are safer.”
Id. Drivers under 25 are more frequently involved in
accidents. Thus, Lake Powell acted in a manner that failed to
meet vehicle rental industry standards, which resulted in an
increased risk to the public. Id. at 2-3. Lake
Powell and Avis were negligent in failing to have
“clear procedures and policies” on qualifying
renters. See Id. at 3. Mr. Tennant opines that Avis
was negligent in allowing Mr. Williams to have discretion in
renting vehicles when Avis “knew, or should have known,
that in spite of many years in the car rental industry, has a
very poor understanding of such basic industry principals as
rental qualification policies, [and] underage rental
policies.” Id. at 5. He states Avis
“should not have allowed Mr. Williams to rent these
vehicles to Mr. Karadeniz” because the accident would
not have occurred otherwise. Id.
III of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges Avis
negligently entrusted the vehicles to Mr. Karadeniz, Mr.
Tacir, and Mr. Demir. Count V states Avis negligently trained
and supervised employees, which caused the subject accident.
Avis filed two motions on these claims on November 4, 2016:
Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Claim for
Negligent Entrustment (Doc. 106) and Motion for Summary
Judgment on Plaintiffs' Claim for Negligent Supervision
and Training (Doc. 107). Plaintiffs filed Responses on
December 13, 2016 (Docs. 118 and 119). Lake Powell Replies on
January 26, 2017 (Docs. 136 and 137).
Court incorporates by reference its discussion of the
deficiencies in Plaintiffs' briefing set forth in the
Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order Granting Lake
Powell's Motion for Summary Judgment. See Doc.
150 at 5-8.
judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits . . . show that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled
to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See
Shapolia v. Los Alamos Nat'l Lab., 922 F.3d 1033,
1036 (10th Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). Once the moving
party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party must show
that genuine issues remain for trial “as to those
dispositive matters for which it carries the burden of
proof.” Applied Genetics Int'l Inc. v. First
Affiliated Secs., Inc., 912 F.2d 1238, 1241 (10th Cir.
1991) (citation omitted).
is material if it could have an effect on the outcome of the
suit. Smothers v. Solvay Chems., Inc., 740 F.3d 530,
538 (10th Cir. 2014). A dispute over a material fact is
genuine if the evidence presented could allow a rational jury
to find in favor of the nonmoving party. EEOC v.
Horizon/CMS Heathcare Corp., 220 F.3d 1184, 1190 (10th
Cir. 2000). A court is to view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of that party. Shero v. City of
Grove, 510 F.3d 1196, 1200 (10th Cir. 2007). A court
cannot weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter, but instead determines whether there is a genuine
issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 243 (1986).
complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of
the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial, ” and thus, the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
makes three principal arguments regarding Plaintiffs'
claim for negligent entrustment. First, the Graves Amendment
precludes joint and several liability. Second, Avis did not
entrust a vehicle to Mr. Demir because the transaction
occurred at Lake Powell, an Avis licensee location. Third,
Plaintiffs have no evidence Mr. Demir was incompetent to
drive, nor have they shown Avis knew or should have known Mr.
Demir was incompetent to drive. The Court agrees, and finds
Avis is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claim
for negligent entrustment.
first points out that the Graves Amendment, 49 U.S.C. §
30106(a), expressly preempts vicarious liability claims
against commercial vehicle lessors. Guinn v. Great W.
Cas. Co., No. CIV-09-1198-D, 2010 WL 4811042, at *6
(W.D. Okla. Nov. 19, 2010). Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint
asserts joint and several liability against Avis, so the