California Court of Appeals, First District, Fifth Division
FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]
Superior Court of Contra Costa County, No. CIVMSC1300167,
Barry P. Goode, Judge.
Dolan Law Firm, Christopher B. Dolan and Jeremy M. Jessup;
Law Office of J. Michael Brown, J. Michael Brown, for
Plaintiffs and Respondents.
Samuelson, Wilson & Roe, Charles R. Roe, for Defendant
and Appellant David Richard Harris.
wrongful death action arising from a motor vehicle collision,
the decedents’ survivors sued John Harris,
and John’s father, David Richard Harris, who co-owned
the truck John was driving. David appeals from the judgment
entered against him, after the jury found him liable on a
negligent entrustment theory. We affirm.
November 7, 2011, John suffered a seizure while driving a
Toyota Tacoma truck and struck a car occupied by Ellie
Pirdavari and Mahin Dowlati. Pirdavari and Dowlati were
killed. It was stipulated that, as a result of his seizure,
John was unable to brake or steer; that he was negligent; and
that his operation of the truck was the sole cause of the
truck John drove was jointly owned by John and David. When
they purchased the truck, in 2005, John was 26 years old. He
paid the down payment, and David co-signed the loan. Before
the loan was paid off, in 2009, David made some of the
payments. The truck was registered in both John’s and
David’s names. David paid for its insurance and
registration. However, John had sole possession of the keys
and was the only driver.
was aware, by no later than June 2011, that John suffered
from a seizure disorder. In particular, David knew that John
suffered a grand mal seizure, in June 2011 on a Bay Area
Rapid Transit (BART) train, and that John lost consciousness
and control of his body and was taken to the hospital. Within
days thereafter, David researched grand mal seizures and
learned such seizures could involve lost control and an
epileptic fit for a period of time. On July 30, 2011, John
suffered a second grand mal seizure on a BART train.
testified he did not know if John continued to drive after
the June 2011 seizure but believed it was possible. David
took no action to dissuade John from driving, such as
canceling the Tacoma’s insurance. David considered
removing himself from the registration in 2009 to avoid being
accountable for John’s use of the truck, but he did not
decedents’ survivors, Mo. Ghezavat, Shadeh Ghezavat,
Ali Ghezavat, Haleh Pirdavari, and Leila Pirdavari
(collectively, Plaintiffs) sued John and David for
negligence. As to David, the Plaintiffs’ theory of
liability was negligent entrustment of the jointly owned
Tacoma. Returning special verdicts, the jury found David knew
or should have known that John was “incompetent or
unfit to drive”; that David permitted John to drive the
Tacoma; and that David’s permitting John to drive the
Tacoma was a substantial factor in causing Pirdavari’s
and Dowlati’s deaths. The jury allocated 90 percent of
fault to John and 10 percent to David. The trial court
entered a judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor against David
for $388, 400.