Merkrebs Obtains Summary Judgment Dismissing Complaint on behalf of Client

February 14, 2017 | General Liability

Howard Merkrebs obtained summary judgment dismissing the complaint against clients, the Webers, in an action stemming from an automobile accident.    The plaintiffs’ commercial vehicle and premises were damaged by a vehicle stolen from the Webers’ driveway.  The key to the Webers’ vehicle was left in another vehicle also located in their driveway.  Plaintiffs retained an “automobile security expert” who opined that the Webers’ action in leaving the keys to the stolen vehicle in the other vehicle constituted “permissive use.”   Plaintiffs’ cited New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) Section 1210(a) which provides that “[n]o person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the vehicle . . . .”   Mr. Merkrebs argued that the applicability of VTL Section 1210(a) depends on whether a defendant’s vehicle was parked on a public highway or public road open to motor vehicles and that said section is inapplicable to a privately-owned parking lots and private driveways. The Court agreed that since the Webers’ vehicle was parked in the driveway of their home at the time of its theft, there is no liability under the relevant sections of the VTL.

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