United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
VICKY D'AMICO, as Special Administration of the Estate of Alexis M. D'Amico, deceased, Plaintiff,
DANTE D'AMICO, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, United States District Judge.
before the Court is a motion for summary judgment brought by
defendant Dante D'Amico (Doc. 22). Defendant seeks
summary judgment in his favor as to plaintiff Vicky
D'Amico's, as Special Administrator of the Estate of
Alexis D'Amico, deceased, two-count complaint alleging
negligent entrustment and negligence under the Illinois
Wrongful Death Act, 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 180/1 et seq.
(Doc. 1-2). Plaintiff opposes the motion (Doc. 29). For the
following reasons, defendant's motion is GRANTED.
evening of August 29, 2014, at approximately 7:33 p.m.,
Alexis D'Amico, daughter of both the plaintiff and
defendant, was involved in an automobile accident near the
intersection of Michael Road and Michael Drive in Highland,
Illinois. As a result of the accident, Alexis sustained fatal
and Dante were married in 1997 and divorced in 2010. Alexis
lived with Vicky until February 2013 when she moved in with
Dante. From February 2013, until her death on August 29,
2014, Alexis lived with Dante and did not spend a single
night at Vicky's home. (Doc. 23-1). Alexis obtained her
driver's license two months before the accident, in June
2014. At the time of the accident, she was driving a 1987
Chevrolet Corvette owned by the defendant (Doc. 29-1, pg.
August 12, 2016, defendant removed this case from the Circuit
Court of Madison County, Illinois asserting diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (Doc.
Plaintiff's complaint alleges in Count I that defendant
negligently entrusted his Corvette to Alexis and that his
negligent entrustment proximately caused Alexis' death.
(Doc. 1-2). Specifically, plaintiff alleges in Count I that
defendant had a duty to refrain from entrusting his Corvette
to Alexis when he knew or should have known that she lacked
the experience, competence and skills to operate the
Corvette. Id. In Count II, plaintiff alleges that
defendant was negligent in allegedly failing to properly
maintain the Corvette when he knew or should have known of
the unsafe conditions of the vehicle, including the brakes,
steering mechanism, tires, wheels and other mechanical
problems. Id. Plaintiff seeks recovery under the
Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180.1 et seq.) for pecuniary
loss, including loss of companionship, society, love and
affection arising out of Alexis' death. On July 24, 2017,
defendant filed the underlying motion seeking summary
judgment on both counts of plaintiff's complaint (Doc.
22), to which plaintiff responded (Doc. 29). The Court will
address each count in turn.
judgment is proper when the pleadings, discovery, and
disclosures establish that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Winsley v. Cook Cnty., 563 F.3d 598,
602-03 (7th Cir. 2009); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). All
reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmovant and
all factual disputes are resolved in favor of the nonmovant.
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007); Fischer v.
Avanade, Inc., 519 F.3d 393, 401 (7th Cir. 2008). The
movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of fact
issues and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.
Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461
(7th Cir. 1997) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323).
In response, the non-moving party may not rest on bare
pleadings alone, but instead must highlight specific material
facts to show the existence of a genuine issue to be resolved
at trial. Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d
596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). A genuine dispute as to a material
fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Pugh v. City of Attica, Indiana, 259 F.3d 619, 625
(7th Cir. 2001). The Court will enter summary judgment
against a party who does not “come forward with
evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to
find in [its] favor on a material question.”
McGrath v. Gillis, 44 F.3d 567, 569 (7th Cir. 1995).
LAW AND APPLICATION
on the automobile accident that occurred on August 29, 2014,
plaintiff brings the present two-count complaint alleging a
negligent entrustment claim in Count I and a negligence claim
in Count II, both pursuant to the Illinois Wrongful Death
Act, 740 ILCS 180/1. The purpose of the Illinois Wrongful
Death Act is to compensate the parents and siblings of the
deceased family member for pecuniary losses resulting from
that family member's death. Elliott v. Willis,
92 Ill.2d 530, 65 Ill.Dec. 852, 442 N.E.2d 163, 168 (1982).
claims that defendant is liable for negligently entrusting
his Corvette to their daughter, Alexis. In Illinois, an
action for negligent entrustment consists of
“entrusting a dangerous article to another whom the
lender knows, or should know, is likely to use it in a manner
involving an unreasonable risk of harm to others.”
Zedella v. Gibson, 165 Ill.2d 181, 185, 650 N.E.2d
1000, 1002 (Ill.1995). The negligent act of giving an
automobile to an incompetent driver forms the basis of the
tort. Pelczynski v. J.W. Peters & Sons, Inc.,
178 Ill.App.3d 882, 886 (1989). “[A] person may be
liable for the negligent entrustment of a vehicle
‘where that person entrusts the vehicle to one whose
incompetency, inexperience, or recklessness is known or
should have been known by the entrustor of the vehicle.'
” Watson v. Enter. Leasing Co., 325 Ill.App.3d
914, 921, 258 Ill.Dec. 915, 757 N.E.2d 604 (2001).
context of motor vehicles, Illinois courts focus on two
primary considerations in a negligent entrustment analysis:
(1) whether the owner of the vehicle entrusted his car to an
incompetent or unfit driver, and (2) whether the incompetency
of that other person proximately caused plaintiff's
injury. Evans v. Shannon, 201 Ill.2d 424, 434, 776
N.E.2d 1184, 1190 (2002); see also McGath v. Price,
342 Ill.App.3d 19, 27-28, 276 Ill.Dec. 42, 793 N.E.2d 801
(2003). The case law provides, when considering a negligent
entrustment claim, the driver's driving record is highly
relevant. See Lockett v. Bi-State Transit Authority,
94 Ill.2d 66, 74 (1983). For this reason, a plaintiff must