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Amparan v. Lake Powell Car Rental Companies

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

February 13, 2018

EDMUNDO AMPARAN; KIMBERLY L. AMPARAN, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
v.
LAKE POWELL CAR RENTAL COMPANIES, Defendant-Appellee, and MEVLUT BERKAY DEMIR; DENIZCAN KARADENIZ; PV HOLDING CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Defendants.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (D.C. No. 1:15-CV-00045-WJ-GJF)

          Thomas C. Bird (Kurt Wihl with him on the briefs), Keleher & McLeod, P.A., Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Plaintiffs - Appellants.

          Robert F. Gentile (Jonathan A. Garcia with him on the brief), Guebert Bruckner P.C., Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Defendant - Appellee.

          Before BACHARACH, MURPHY, and McHUGH, Circuit Judges.

          McHUGH, Circuit Judge

         Edmundo Amparan and Kimberly L. Amparan (the "Amparans") appeal from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Lake Powell Car Rental Companies ("Lake Powell") on the Amparans' claims for negligent entrustment and loss of consortium. The claims arose from a vehicle accident involving a motorcycle operated by Mr. Amparan and a Ford Mustang rented by Lake Powell to Denizcan Karadeniz and operated by Mevlut Berkay Demir. Mr. Karadeniz and Mr. Demir are both Turkish nationals who were under the age of twenty-five at the time of the accident. Because the Amparans failed to come forward with evidence from which the jury could find an essential element of their claim for negligent entrustment, we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

          A. Factual History

         On July 14, 2014, a group of Turkish nationals, including Mr. Karadeniz, visited Lake Powell to rent two vehicles. Mr. Karadeniz produced a valid Turkish driver's license and a valid credit card. Mert Tacir, another member of the group, produced a valid Turkish driver's license. The owner and operator of Lake Powell, Paul Williams, asked the remaining individuals in the group if they possessed valid driver's licenses. Mr. Demir responded that he possessed a valid driver's license. At the time of the rental, Mr. Karadeniz, Mr. Tacir, and Mr. Demir were all twenty-one years old.

         Although Mr. Williams recognized that Mr. Karadeniz and Mr. Tacir were under the age of twenty-five, he nonetheless agreed to rent a Dodge Caravan and a Ford Mustang to Mr. Karadeniz and to permit Mr. Tacir to be an additional authorized driver for the Ford Mustang. None of the other members of the group, including Mr. Demir, completed an "Additional Driver Application/Agreement."[1]Evidence in the record supports the conclusion that Mr. Williams's decision to rent two vehicles to an individual under the age of twenty-five and to permit an additional driver under the age of twenty-five violated internal policies propagated by Lake Powell's licensor, Avis Rent A Car Systems, LLC ("Avis").[2] The Amparans further contend that Lake Powell's rental and entrustment of the vehicles to individuals under twenty-five ran contrary to age-based restrictions employed by other companies in the car rental business.

         During the course of the rental, Mr. Demir operated the Ford Mustang. Mr. Demir, unfamiliar with the traffic rules governing left turns at intersections, turned left on a standard green light without yielding to oncoming traffic. Mr. Amparan, traveling in the oncoming direction, unsuccessfully attempted to swerve to avoid hitting the turning vehicle operated by Mr. Demir and the two vehicles collided. As a result of the collision, Mr. Amparan alleges he suffered multiple broken bones, a punctured lung, and various other injuries.

         B. Procedural History

         The Amparans commenced this action by filing a complaint in New Mexico state court, naming Mr. Demir, Mr. Karadeniz, and Avis as defendants. Avis removed the action to federal court. After an initial round of discovery, the district court granted the Amparans leave to amend their complaint and the Amparans added Lake Powell as a defendant.[3] Relevant to this appeal, the amended complaint raised claims against Lake Powell for negligent entrustment and loss of consortium.[4]

         Lake Powell moved for summary judgment. Relative to the negligent entrustment claim, Lake Powell argued, in part, that, even if it implicitly entrusted the Ford Mustang to Mr. Demir, it neither knew nor should have known that Mr. Demir was likely to operate the Ford Mustang in such a manner as to create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Subsequent to Lake Powell's motion for summary judgment, the Amparans filed a notice of testifying expert, identifying James S. Tennant as an expert on both the risk posed by young drivers and standards of care in the car rental industry. The Amparans also contested Lake Powell's motion for summary judgment, arguing in part that Lake Powell's violation of internal policies regarding renting to, or approving as additional drivers, individuals under twenty-five constituted sufficient evidence to permit the finding that Lake Powell knew or should have known that Mr. Demir was likely to operate the Ford ...


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