Negligent entrustment is a cause of action recognized in Florida personal injury cases. Proving negligent entrustment generally means establishing that another person or entity negligently allowed someone to use a dangerous object. In Florida, state courts have recognized section 390 of the Second Restatement of Torts, which states that if a someone supplies an object to another person and knows or has reason to believe it is likely that the object will be used in a way that involves unreasonable risk of physical harm to himself and others, that person is subject to liability for the resulting harm.
For example, a Florida court has found parents liable for negligent entrustment after they allowed their thirteen-year-old son to drive an ATV, after the ATV was involved an accident. That court decided that the parents knew or should have known that their son could not be entrusted with an ATV and that he was likely to violate the rules they had given him. In contrast, a Florida court found that a man could not be held liable for negligent entrustment after he put his drunk brother’s car keys in a place where he could easily have found them.
One state Supreme Court recently issued a decision in a negligent entrustment case. In that case, the plaintiff was knocked over and hospitalized at a grocery store by another customer driving a motorized cart. The plaintiff had about $11,500 in medical bills, and filed a negligent entrustment claim against the grocery store, claiming that the store should not have allowed the customer to use the motorized cart. After a jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding $121,000 in compensatory damages and $1,198,000 in punitive damages, the state’s supreme court reversed.