Coverage & Bad Faith Update: Limitations of the “Beneficial Ownership” Exception

May 15, 2014 by on News


Limitations of the “Beneficial Ownership” Exception

Christensen v. Bowen, 39 Fla. L. Weekly S214 (Fla. Apr. 10, 2014).

The Florida Supreme Court was asked to address the issue of whether a title co-owner may be vicariously liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine for the negligent use of a vehicle if he or she never intended to be an owner and had relinquished all access and control of such vehicle to the other co-owner at the time of the accident. In this case, a husband and wife had purchased a vehicle and the title was issued to them jointly as co-owners. The couple then divorced, and the ex-wife began to use the vehicle exclusively… The Florida Supreme Court affirmed, and held that in the absence of evidence showing that a joint titleholder only continued to hold title because of a conditional sales contract or a faulty, incomplete transfer, such titleholder is a true and beneficial owner as a matter of law, and thus remains vicariously liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, regardless of whether he or she had relinquished control of the vehicle to the other titleholder.

Continue reading… Coverage-update-5.15.14

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