The Outcome: The pair claimed negligence against the driver, a landscaper, and negligent entrustment on the part of his employer. (Loan payments for the driver's vehicle were paid directly by his employer's bank account.) The driver admitted to using marijuana while driving the vehicle, and his employer had hired him despite a background check that revealed extensive criminal history, including possession of crack cocaine and marijuana charges. The driver admitted to crossing the center line in this wreck, but blamed bad tires.
When the employer claimed he was simply a guarantor who had no ownership or control of the vehicle (indeed, we knew we didn't have a title or insurance in the employer's name), we knew we'd need to assemble convincing evidence to establish control or co-ownership. We found it in language from the financing documents, payments being debited from the employer's bank account, and an alleged agreement that the employee had to return the vehicle in the event he was terminated before it was paid off.