CACI No. 721. Motor Vehicle Owner Liability - Affirmative Defense - Use Beyond Scope of Permission

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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721.Motor Vehicle Owner Liability - Affirmative Defense - Use
Beyond Scope of Permission
[Name of defendant] claims that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] is not
responsible for [name of plaintiff]’s harm because [name of driver]’s use of
the vehicle exceeded the scope of the permission given. To succeed, [name
of defendant] must prove both of the following:
1. That [name of defendant], by words or conduct, gave permission to
[name of driver] to use the vehicle for a limited time, place, or
purpose; and
2. That [name of driver]’s use of the vehicle substantially violated the
time, place, or purpose specified.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
This instruction is intended for use when the vehicle owner contends that the use of
the vehicle exceeded the scope of the permission, thereby terminating the
Sources and Authority
Permissive Use. Vehicle Code section 17150.
“[W]here the permission is granted for a limited time, any use after the
expiration of the period is without consent, and the owner is not liable, unless
the circumstances justify an inference of implied consent to further use. [¶] . . .
On principle, there is no fundamental ground of distinction between a limitation
of time and one of purpose or place, insofar as permission is concerned; and it
would seem clear that a substantial violation of either limitation terminates the
original express consent and makes the subsequent use without permission. . . .
[¶] . . . [T]he substantial violation of limitations as to locality or purpose of use
operate in the same manner as violation of time limitations, absolving the owner
from liability.” (Henrietta v. Evans (1938) 10 Cal.2d 526, 528-529 [75 P.2d
1051], internal citations omitted.)
“[W]here restrictions by the owner as to time, purpose, or area are involved, the
owners permission is considered terminated only where there has been a
substantial violation of such restrictions, and it is a question of fact whether
under all the circumstances presented, such restrictions as to time, purpose, or
area have been substantially violated prior to the occurrence of the accident so
as to vitiate the owners permission and thus absolve him from the vicarious
liability imposed under [the predecessor to section 17150].” (Peterson v. Grieger,
Inc. (1961) 57 Cal.2d 43, 52 [17 Cal.Rptr. 828, 367 P.2d 420], internal citations
“What is a substantial deviation from a permitted use is a question of fact under
the circumstances of each case.” (Garmon v. Sebastian (1960) 181 Cal.App.2d
254, 260 [5 Cal.Rptr. 101].)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 1428
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) Automobiles, §§ 4.35-4.36
2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.20[5][c] (Matthew
8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 82, Automobiles: Causes of Action,
§ 82.16 (Matthew Bender)

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