BSP attorneys Stephanie Douglas and Susan McKeever won an interlocutory published decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals reversing and remanding for judgment in favor of Ford Motor Company. Ford’s only connection to this single-vehicle wrongful death action was that the vehicle had been leased from Ford by a Ford management employee. Her teenage daughter used the car to travel to a weekend music festival with friends. On the drive home, one of those friends is alleged to have lost control of the car, killing two of the occupants, and seriously injuring two others.
In the resulting litigation, several plaintiffs sued Ford for statutory owner’s liability and vicarious liability. When the trial court denied Ford’s dispositive motion, BSP’s team successfully moved for leave for interlocutory appeal. The Court agreed with BSP’s argument that Ford, as a long-term lessor, was “engaged in the business of leasing motor vehicles,” and was thus exempt from statutory and common-law owner’s liability. The Court also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that Ford could be held vicariously liable, holding that under the circumstances, “vicarious liability simply has no application.”