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ESKEW v. YOUNG

February 9, 1998

LAINA ESKEW, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN S. YOUNG, KEITH BURROUGHES and CRUISE AMERICA, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STIEHL

 STIEHL, District Judge:

 Before the Court is defendant Cruise America, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

 BACKGROUND

 During the summer of 1993, defendants Brian S. Young and Keith Burroughes, both of whom are citizens of England, arrived in the United States for the purpose of taking a long vacation together. Before leaving Great Britain, Young and Burroughes apparently made arrangements through a Cruise America agent, Caravan Abroad, located in Surrey. England, to rent a recreational vehicle (RV) in Nevada. After accepting payment in Great Britain on behalf of Cruise America. Caravan Abroad gave Burroughes a voucher to present to Cruise America in Las Vegas.

 On August 2, 1993, Young and Burroughes presented the voucher to a representative of Cruise America at its rental agency located in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time of the rental. Cruise America requested and recorded the British Driver's Licenses of both Young and Burroughes. After Young and Burroughes completed and signed the appropriate rental agreement forms, Cruise America turned over the keys to one of its RV's, apparently with little or no instruction.

 On August 13, 1993, Young and Burroughes were involved in a two-vehicle accident in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming while Young was driving the RV. The parties all seem to agree on the events leading up to the accident. Specifically, Young was driving the RV southbound on a two land road. The vehicle in which plaintiff was riding was driven by Mark McCarthy. They were traveling northbound on the opposite side of the same road as Young, in anticipation of making a left-hand turn into a paved pull-out, Young began to slow the RV. At the same time, McCarthy turned on his headlights in an apparent attempt to make his vehicle more visible. Young erroneously assumed that McCarthy was yielding the right-of-way to him. According to Young (and supported by other evidence in the record), in Great Britain, it is customary for a driver to flash his headlights to signal that he is yielding the right-of-way. Based on his erroneous assumption, Young began to turn left across the lane in which McCarthy was driving in order to drive into the paved pull-out. McCarthy unsuccessfully attempted to slow down and avoid a collision, and struck the RV with his vehicle. Plaintiff was severely injured in the accident.

 On October 28, 1994, plaintiff commenced this action against Cruise America and Young. In her amended complaint, filed November 21, 1996, plaintiff added Burroughes as an additional defendant. In Count II of her amended complaint, plaintiff states a claim against Cruise America for negligent entrustment. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Cruise America, knowing that Young was a citizen of Great Britain, failed to properly educate, instruct, and familiarize Young with the rules, customs, and practices of operating a motor vehicle in the United States. As a result, according to plaintiff, Cruise America's failure was the direct and proximate cause of Young's allegedly negligent and careless operation of the RV, which led to the collision of the two vehicles. In essence, plaintiff claims that, as a citizen of Great Britain. Young was an inexperienced driver regarding the informal driving customs in the United States, and that Cruise America breached the standard of care for rental of the RV by failing to instruct Young as to the differences between the informal driving customs in the United States and Great Britain.

 ANALYSIS

 A. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) provides that a district court shall grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In determining whether a district court properly granted summary judgment, "all factual inferences are to be taken against the moving party and in favor of the opposing party." International Adm'rs, Inc. v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 753 F.2d 1373, 1378 (7th Cir. 1985). In instances in which "inferences contrary to those drawn by the trial court might be permissible," a district court's grant of summary judgment must be reversed. Munson v. Friske, 754 F.2d 683, 690 (7th Cir. 1985). Once a motion for summary judgment has been made and properly supported, however, the nonmovant does have the burden of setting forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue of a material fact for trial. See Rule 56(e); Posey v. Skyline Corp., 702 F.2d 102, 105 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 960, 78 L. Ed. 2d 336, 104 S. Ct. 392 (1983), (noting that "a bare contention that an issue of fact exists is insufficient to raise a factual issue"). Although a requisite, the existence of a factual dispute is not, standing alone, sufficient to bar summary judgment. It is well settled that a "factual dispute does not preclude summary judgment unless . . . the disputed fact is outcome determinative under the governing law." Egger v. Phillips, 710 F.2d 292, 296 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 918, 78 L. Ed. 2d 262, 104 S. Ct. 284 (1983), cited in Shlay v. Montgomery, 802 F.2d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1986).

 B. CHOICE OF LAW

 On June 26, 1995, the Court entered a Memorandum and Order disposing of Cruise America's motion to dismiss. In that order, the Court ...


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