California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

721. Motor Vehicle Owner Liability—Affirmative Defense—Use Beyond Scope of Permission

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721.Motor Vehicle Owner Liability—Affirmative Defense—Use
Beyond Scope of Permission
[Name of defendant] claims that [he/she] 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
owner’s 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 owner’s 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 omitted.)
• “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 (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 1272
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)