Medina County Courthouse

Monday, April 25, 2011

Use of Public Records in Motions for Summary Judgment

I recently had a case where a plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment against both a defendant on two counterclaims and a third party plaintiff on two claim. The claims were for negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle and negligent supervision of a minor. The counterclaims and the third party claims arose out of the following facts:

A minor is riding with her father in her mom's vehicle. The father is driving and the daughter is a passenger, and also a minor. The parents are divorced with the daughter living in the same house as her mother. On the day of the accident, the mother alleges that her vehicle was struck from behind by the defendant's vehicle and that her daughter was injured in the accident.

The mother brings a lawsuit against the defendant as next friend and guardian of the daughter. The defendant files an answer and a counterclaim as well as a third party complaint. The defendant's wife joins in the third party complaint.

The defendant alleges that he was not negligent and that the accident was actually caused by the father of the child. He also claims that the mother negligently entrusted her vehicle to her husband who was an incompetent driver. He claims that the negligence of the father caused the accident and that therefore he is not only not liable for the accident, but that both the mother and father of the child are liable to him. The father because he negligently caused the accident and the mother because she negligently entrusted the vehicle to her ex-husband.

The defendant's wife joined in the third party complaint claiming loss of services. She also alleged negligence against the father and negligent entrustment against the mother of the child.

Both the defendant and his wife also sued the mother for negligent supervision. Their argument was that the mother negligently supervised her daughter by allowing the daughter to ride with her ex-husband.

When the defendant and his wife filed responses to the mother's motion for summary judgment on the claims of negligent entrustment and negligent supervision, they attached purported copies of various court documents from Cuyahoga County courts. While there was an affidavit attached from the attorney representing the defendant and his wife, the documents were not certified. The issue then became whether I could consider such documents.

With regard to the motion for summary judgment on the issue of negligent supervision, the issue became whether a cause of action for negligent supervision can exist in a situation where a child is not the tortfeasor who caused the injury.

You can see my answer to the questions posed above and my analysis by clicking here. Please keep in mind that this decision is subject to appeal.

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