Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ramirez-Lucas v. Hutchinson

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

August 14, 2019

GUSTAVO RAMIREZ-LUCAS, deceased, by and through CINDY KRAMER and NORMA RAMIREZ, co-personal representatives of the ESTATE OF GUSTAVO RAMIREZ-LUCAS, Appellants,
v.
JOHN HUTCHINSON and ANDREW HUTCHINSON, Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Edward A. Garrison, Judge; L.T. Case No. 2015CA007967.

          Blair M. Dickert and Lee Gill Cohen of Kanner & Pintaluga, P.A., Boca Raton, for appellants.

          Hinda Klein of Conroy Simberg, Hollywood, for appellees.

          DAMOORGIAN, J.

         Plaintiffs, Cindy Kramer and Norma Ramirez, as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Gustavo Ramirez-Lucas, appeal the final judgment entered in favor of John Hutchison on the issue of vicarious liability. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

         Background

         On May 19, 2015, a vehicle driven by Andrew Hutchinson ("the Son") collided with a bicycle operated by Gustavo Ramirez-Lucas ("the Decedent"). As a result of the collision, the Decedent suffered serious injuries which ultimately resulted in his death. Plaintiffs thereafter sued the Son for negligence along with his father, John Hutchinson ("the Father") (collectively "Defendants"), for the Son's negligence under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the Father owned the vehicle driven by the Son that was involved in the accident. Defendants answered the complaint and denied the material allegations, including the Father's ownership of the vehicle.

         The issue of whether the Father transferred his ownership interest in the vehicle prior to the accident proceeded to a bench trial where the following was established by testimonial and documentary evidence.

         In December 2014, approximately five months prior to the accident, the Father delivered physical possession of the vehicle to the adult Son along with both keys, the manual, and the registration. That same day, the Father also provided the Son with the signed certificate of title. From December 2014 until the time of the accident, the vehicle remained at the Son's residence and the Son maintained sole possession, control, and use of the vehicle. The Son also paid all associated costs of the vehicle. The Father, who did not reside with the Son, did not operate or exercise dominion over the vehicle at any point after physical possession of the vehicle was transferred to the Son.

         Defendants initially agreed that the Son would pay $2, 500 for the vehicle, however, payment was delayed until end of January 2015. Defendants later decided to formally document the sale by belatedly executing a bill of sale agreement on April 1, 2015. The bill of sale agreement, which was admitted into evidence, listed the Father as the seller, the Son as the buyer, and the purchase price as $2, 500.

         Around the same time that he received payment from the Son, the Father sent a letter to his insurance carrier requesting that the vehicle be removed from his policy because he "no longer own[ed] the vehicle." The Father's insurance carrier later confirmed in writing that, as of February 2, 2015, the vehicle was removed from the Father's policy. That same month, the Son added the vehicle to his own insurance policy.

         At no time prior to the accident did the Father notify the DMV of the sale or transfer of the vehicle as required under section 319.22, Florida Statutes. Nor did the Son deliver the certificate of title to the DMV to complete the transfer of title prior to the accident.

         Based on the above evidence, the trial court found that the Father transferred his ownership interest in the vehicle prior to the accident and was therefore not subject to vicarious liability for the Son's alleged negligent driving. Specifically, the court found that the Father's act of delivering physical possession of the vehicle, along with the keys, the owner's manual, and the endorsed certificate of title, constituted a bona ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.