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Taft v. Jumbo Foods, Inc.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Pocatello

November 26, 2013

Trevor TAFT, a minor, and David and Wendy Taft, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
JUMBO FOODS, INC., Defendant-Respondent, and Derek B. Gummersall, a minor, Clay and Julie Gummersall, husband and wife, Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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May, Rammell & Thomas, Chtd., Pocatello, for appellants. Bron Rammell argued.

Cooper & Larsen, Pocatello, for respondent. Gary L. Cooper argued.

J. JONES, Justice.

This appeal arises from litigation involving a motor vehicle accident in Oneida County. Passenger Trevor Taft was injured when driver Derek Gummersall, the son of Clay Gummersall, lost control of a 1988 Ford Ranger. At the time of the accident, Clay was an employee of Jumbo Foods, Inc., in whose name the vehicle was titled. David, Wendy, and Trevor Taft (" the Tafts" ) sued Jumbo Foods under theories of negligent entrustment and imputed negligence, arguing that Jumbo Foods owned the Ranger, and thus had a right to control it. Jumbo Foods countered that it sold the Ranger to Clay Gummersall before the accident occurred, and thus could not be held liable. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Jumbo Foods and the Tafts timely appealed. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 6, 2008, Derek Gummersall, the minor son of Clay and Julie Gummersall, lost

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control of the vehicle he was driving, a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup truck, while traveling through Oneida County, Idaho. Derek's passenger, Appellant Trevor Taft, was severely injured as a result. Trevor and his parents commenced this lawsuit to recover damages from Derek, Clay, and Julie Gummersall, as well as from Clay's employer, Jumbo Foods. The Ranger had been used by Clay as a company vehicle for his employment as a sales person for Jumbo Foods.

Sometime in June 2008, Clay began having discussions with Don Hartzell, the operations manager of Jumbo Foods, about purchasing the Ranger. Clay testified that on July 1, 2008, he prepared a handwritten agreement, which indicated that Jumbo Foods was " selling" him the Ranger for $5,000. Hartzell stated that he authorized Clay to sign the document on his behalf. Clay used this document to obtain insurance on the vehicle. Jenifer Wiscombe, an agent for American Family Mutual Insurance Company, testified that Clay applied for insurance on the Ranger " as of July 1, 2008." The application for insurance indicates that the application was taken on July 7, 2008— the day after the accident— but shows the " effective date" to be July 1, 2008.

On July 18, 2008, twelve days after the accident, Jumbo Foods transferred title to the Ranger to Clay. In a bill of sale, also dated July 18, 2008, Jumbo Foods sold the Ranger to Clay for $1,000. Hartzell said that " [t]he rest of the paperwork finalizing the sales transaction which had been agreed upon on July 1, 2008 was finalized on July 18, 2008." A cashier's check in the amount of $1,000 was prepared on July 8, 2008, but Jumbo Foods did not receive it until July 18, 2008. The State of Washington, where the Ranger was titled, was notified of the sale by Jumbo Foods that same day.

The Tafts commenced their lawsuit on August 6, 2010, more than two years after the accident. The claims against the Gummersalls settled, and Jumbo Foods was left as the only defendant. On May 2, 2011, Jumbo Foods moved for summary judgment. In support of its motion, Jumbo Foods provided the affidavits of Clay, Hartzell, and Wiscombe. The Tafts moved to strike portions of the affidavits of Clay, Hartzell, and Wiscombe. The district court entered a memorandum decision on September 27, 2011, denying the Tafts' motions to strike, holding that Jumbo Foods is not liable under the theories of imputed liability and negligent entrustment and that the independent claims of David and Wendy Taft were barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The Tafts timely appealed.

II.

ISSUES ON APPEAL

I. Did the district court abuse its discretion in denying the motions to strike?
II. Did the district court err in granting summary judgment on the issue of imputed liability under I.C. § 49-2417?
III. Did the district court err in granting summary judgment on the issue of negligent entrustment?
IV. Did the district court err in applying the statute of limitations?
V. Are the Tafts entitled to attorney fees under I.C. § 12-121?

III.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review.


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