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Car Salesperson Not Obligated To Assess Ability Or Mental Or Physical Fitness Of Customer

January 26, 2009

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In Cook v. Schapiro, defendant Elaine Schapiro, an eighty-year old woman, purchased a car from co-defendant Mt. Kisco Chevrolet Cadillac, Inc. Two days later, while Ms. Schapiro operated her vehicle, she struck a car and fatally injured the plaintiffs' decedent. Plaintiffs commenced an action, in part, against Mt. Kisco Chevrolet, accusing it of negligently entrusting a car to Ms. Schapiro. Mt. Kisco Chevrolet's motion to dismiss for failing to state a cause of action pursuant CPLR §3211(a) (7) was denied by the trial court.
The Appellate Division, Second Department reversed the trial court’s order, converted the motion to one for summary judgment pursuant CPLR §3211(c) and granted the motion to dismiss. The Court held that since the car dealership possessed no “special knowledge” regarding Ms. Schapiro or the car, there can be no viable cause of action for negligent entrustment. Moreover, the Court refused to impose a higher a duty upon Mt. Kisco Chevrolet to evaluate ability or mental or physical fitness of its customers.
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