Tansha Akogyeram Granted Dismissal in Vicarious Liability Claim

Posted on: December 1st, 2022

Tansha Akogyeram obtained a Pre-Answer dismissal for her client, a rental truck company sued for vicarious liability. The suit arose from a single-vehicle collision involving a rental truck in which Plaintiff was a passenger. The driver of the rental truck fell asleep, causing it to strike a median. Plaintiff filed suit against the driver for negligence and against the rental truck company for vicarious liability. Plaintiff alleged the rental truck company was liable under Iowa Code § 321.493 because it owned and rented the vehicle to the negligent driver.

Akogyeram moved to dismiss the vicarious liability claim, arguing Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the Graves Amendment (49 U.S.C. § 30106) preempts vicarious liability claims against rental car companies for injuries resulting from a renter’s negligence unless the rental company was otherwise negligent or engaged in wrongdoing. Akogyeram argued Plaintiff’s action should be dismissed because there were no allegations of negligence or wrongdoing against her client. Plaintiff resisted, asserting that the motion to dismiss was “premature” and that defendants must provide evidence showing they were engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles to obtain protection under the Graves Amendment.

The trial court rejected Plaintiff’s arguments and granted Akogyeram’s motion to dismiss. The court stated, “Plaintiff’s claims under Iowa Code §321.493 are federally preempted by 49 U.S.C. § 30106” and further discovery “will not change the fact Plaintiff’s claim is preempted.”

Reyes v. Hischke, et al., Jasper County Case No. LACV122818

Read more news articles »