Question of Fact About Whether ATV Driven with Owner’s Permission Based Upon Owner’s Restrictions on Use of the ATV
The Third Department determined a question of fact had been raised about whether an all terrain vehicle (ATV) was being operated with the owner’s consent at the time of a collision (a requirement for vicarious liability–Vehicle and Traffic Law 2411). The owner claimed only his grandson had permission to operate the ATV and operation of the ATV on a public highway was not permitted by him. The accident occurred when the ATV was driven by someone other than the owner’s grandson (with the grandson’s permission) on a public highway. The grandson was driving an ATV which had just been damaged in an accident and they were using the public highway to return to the off-road trails:
Although [the owner] and his grandson both confirm that the restrictions regarding where the ATV could be operated had been imposed, when the “the disavowals are arguably suspect, as where there is evidence suggesting implausibility, collusion or implied permission, the issue of consent should go to a jury” … . Here, the testimony of [the owner] is self-interested and his grandson–who is not a party–has no interest of his own in contradicting his grandfather’s position. Under these circumstances, we are persuaded that the grandson’s alleged directions and assurances to [the driver of the ATV] could imply, when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, [the owner’s] restrictions were flexible and had been lifted under the circumstances. Accordingly, the issue of implied permission should be determined by a jury … .
Sepsi v Watson, 2015 NY Slip Op 00414, 3rd Dept 1-15-15