Scooter Lessor Off the Hook for Incident at County Fair in NY

In Couture v. Miskovitz, the plaintiff complained that  she was struck by a motorized scooter operated by defendant Miskovitz. Miskovitz had rented the scooter from defendant Stillwater Ramps and Mobility Center and was operating the scooter at the county fair at the time of the accident. Defendant Dutchess County Agricultural Society owned the premises. The lower court denied Stillwater’s and Dutchess County’s motions for summary judgment.

In reversing the lower court’s decision, the Second Department held that Stillwater was entitled to summary judgment because it was not vicariously liable for Miskovitz’ actions pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law 388. Specifically, the fact that the scooter was not operated on a public highway relieved Stillwater from vicarious liability. Moreover, Stillwater demonstrated that it was not negligent in maintaining the scooter, entrusting the scooter to Miskovitz or in training him how to use it.

The Court also held that Dutchess County was entitled to summary judgment because it did not have the ability or opportunity, through the exercise of reasonable measures, to control Miskovitz’s actions.

 Thanks to Georgia Stagias for her contribution.

For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com.