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Factual Pleadings In Complaint Will Not Be Dismissed Without Discovery Regarding Liability Due To Ownership Of Vehicle

September 22, 2023

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In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Sharon-Holmquist-v.-Harry-Orphanides-and-Rallye-BMW.pdf">Sharon Holmquist v. Harry Orphanides and Rallye BMW</a>,</em> 2023 NY Slip Op 04660 (2d Dept. 2023), plaintiff suffered personal injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident involving a vehicle that was owned by Rallye BMW and leased to Orphanides. Defendant Rallye BMW filed a motion to dismiss under CPLR 3211(a)(1) and (7) arguing that they could not be held liable under the Graves Amendment 49 USC § 30106. Briefly, under the Graves Amendment, “the owner of a leased or rented motor vehicle cannot be held liable for personal injuries resulting from the use of such vehicle 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” (<em>Harewood v Zip Car</em>, 189 AD3d 1192, 1193 [emphasis added]; see 49 USC § 30106[a]).

Here, the Court determined the Complaint had a cause of action for negligent maintenance against Rallye BMW and Rallye failed to offer evidence that the allegation was not a fact. Any arguments that Rallye BMW’s vehicle was in good working order would be an issue to be discerned on discovery.  The liberal pleadings precedent dictats a trial court will only dismiss all or part of a Compliant if there is no have no cause of action at law.  A Complaint that states facts and allegations arising from those facts as stated, will likely survive any arguments for dismissal under CPLR 3211.

Thanks to Ray Gonzalez for his assistance with this post.  Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Tom Bracken</a>.

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