In Gasca-Lara v. Jackson, No. 3:21cv212, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64028, at *3-5 (N.D. Ind. Apr. 12, 2023), Judge Leichty dismissed a lessor from a vehicle accident personal injury case.
J.B. Lease says it is immune from liability in this case under the Graves Amendment. The Graves Amendment provides: (a) An owner of a motor vehicle that rents or leases the vehicle to a person (or an affiliate of the owner) shall not be liable under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, by reason of being the owner of the vehicle (or an affiliate of the owner), for harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the period of the rental or lease, if– (1) the owner (or an affiliate of the owner) is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles; and (2) there is no negligence or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the owner (or an affiliate of the owner). 49 U.S.C. § 30106(a). J.B. Lease is in the business of leasing vehicles and leased the vehicle involved in the accident here. Mr. Jackson was not employed by J.B. Lease. Mr. Gasca-Lara has not provided any evidence or argument rebutting this, so no reasonable jury could use the respondeat superior doctrine to hold J.B. Lease responsible. See Jasman v. DTG Operations, Inc., 533 F. Supp.2d 753, 758 (W.D. Mich. 2008) (granting summary judgment when non-movant failed to provide evidence or argument rebutting movant’s evidence that the driver was not its employee at the time of the accident). Mr. Gasca-Lara’s negligence claims against J.B. Lease are also barred because Mr. Gasca-Lara has not pointed to any evidence to support a reasonable jury’s finding of negligence. See 49 U.S.C. § 30106(a)(2); see, e.g., Holder v. Suarez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17388, 54 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 12, 2016) (finding the Graves Amendment applicable when the nonmovant failed to present evidence of negligence). As such, no genuine issue of material fact exists regarding J.B. Lease’s alleged negligence, and the court grants summary judgment.