The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the truck rental company’s (MTLR’s) motion for summary judgment in this traffic accident case should not have been granted. Although MTLR proved that the truck was rented out at the time of the accident, it failed to offer any proof of the condition of the truck:
… [T]he Graves Amendment provides “that the owner of a leased or rented motor vehicle cannot be held liable for personal injuries resulting from the use of such vehicle by reason of being the owner of the vehicle 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 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)'” … . However, where “a plaintiff seeks to hold a vehicle owner liable for the alleged failure to maintain a rented vehicle” … , the vehicle owner is not afforded protection under the Graves Amendment if it fails to demonstrate that it did not negligently maintain its vehicle … .
Here, MTLR failed to meet its prima facie burden demonstrating its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the amended complaint insofar as asserted against it. Although MTLR submitted evidence showing that it owned the subject vehicle, that it was engaged in the business of leasing vehicles, and that the subject accident occurred during the period of the rental … , MTLR failed to submit any admissible evidence demonstrating the condition of the vehicle at the time of delivery or at any time up to the happening of the accident … . Couchman v Nunez, 2020 NY Slip Op 00844, Second Dept 2-5-20