In Hamilton v. Brewster, No. 2:20-CV-02054, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175964, at *5-6 (W.D. Ark. Sep. 16, 2021), Judge Holmes granted summary judgment to a lessor who proved that the driver was not the lessor’s employee under the Graves Amendment savings clause, having been faced with pleadings alleging that the driver of the vehicle was the lessor’s employee.
“Although the Graves Amendment prohibits vicarious liability claims against owners of leased vehicles, the Graves Amendment contains a savings clause which allows an owner of a leased vehicle to be found directly liable for the owner’s negligence or criminal wrongdoing.” Carton v. Gen. Motor Acceptance Corp., 611 F.3d 451, 456-57 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Defendant argues Plaintiff’s claims against Penske must be dismissed because Penske is the lessor of the tractor trailer, not Mr. Brewster’s employer, and any negligence claims against Penske are barred by the Graves Amendment. Plaintiff concedes claims against Penske should be dismissed. Because any negligence claims against Penske are barred by the Graves Amendment, Plaintiff’s claims against Penske are dismissed.