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Lawskills.com Georgia Caselaw
MEDLOCK v. BARFIELD et al.
35164.
Damages. Before Judge Crow. Dougherty Superior Court. February 17, 1954.
NICHOLS, J.
An owner of an automobile who knowingly permits his vehicle to be operated by an untrained and unlicensed driver who was learning to drive is not relieved of liability for damages resulting from the operator's incompetence by the fact that the operator was then driving outside of the area in which the owner had given him permission to drive.
Frank Barfield and John Jackson brought suits against Rufus Medlock before a justice of the peace. They alleged that Medlock negligently permitted an untrained driver, Will Taylor, Jr., to drive his automobile, and that Taylor negligently drove Medlock's automobile along Pine Avenue in Albany, across and ten feet beyond the curb, striking Barfield's parked automobile and Jackson's too, with resulting damage. Medlock's answer was that he loaned Taylor his car to drive around the block, and that Taylor, without Medlock's authority, drove the automobile at least six blocks away from where he was authorized to drive it, by reason of which facts Medlock contended he was not liable to the plaintiffs.
Taylor said he was doing all right, whereupon defendant told him to drive around the block again. Taylor drove around the block, came back, and defendant told him to drive around the block again. Taylor left the place where the defendant was standing and drove approximately eight blocks into a heavily traveled area and was grossly negligent in damaging plaintiff's parked automobiles in the sum of $306.18."
The court entered judgment for the plaintiffs in the agreed amount of the damages, and refused a new trial sought by the defendant upon the general grounds. The defendant excepts to the latter judgment.
The defendant Medlock admits that Taylor was negligent, was an untrained driver, and had permission to drive Medlock's automobile in a specified area, and that Medlock knew Taylor was an untrained driver. Medlock concedes his liability if Taylor had driven into the plaintiff's automobiles while driving around the block designated. he contends that Taylor was a bailee of the car for the sole purpose of driving it around the block and, in using it for another purpose and for a longer time than was agreed upon, was guilty of a conversion and so is solely responsible for the damages incurred to the property of the plaintiffs.
That this theory does apply to determine the liability as between the parties to a bailment is illustrated in the cases cited by the defendant: City of Columbus v. Howard, 6 Ga. 213; Gorman v. Campbell, 14 Ga. 137; Malone v. Robinson, 77 Ga. 719; and Farkas v. Powell, 86 Ga. 800 (13 S. E. 200, 12 L. R. A. 397). But as to third parties, where the bailor entrusts a defective automobile to another, or entrusts an automobile to ain incompetent driver, this rule has no application, and is superseded by the broader rule that the bailor must exercise ordinary care to prevent injuries to persons within the range of foreseeable operation of the automobile. As held in Hertz Driv-Ur-Self Stations v. Benson, 83 Ga. App. 866 (3 b, c) (65 S. E. 2d 191): "The bailor's liability is not determined alone by the provisions and warranties of the bailment contract, but also by the limits imposed by the doctrine of proximate cause, that is, whether the defendant should have foreseen the consequences of his negligence, as a natural and probable result.
"In order for a party to be liable as for negligence, it is not necessary that he should have been able to anticipate the particular consequences which ensued. It is sufficient, if in ordinary prudence he might have foreseen that some injury would result from his act or omission, or that consequences of a generally injurious nature might result." Also see Lenderman v. Haynie, 89 Ga. App. 513, 518 (1) (80 S. E. 2d 216), and citations. In this case, the court as the trior of the facts was authorized to find that Medlock was negligent in entrusting his automobile to Taylor, knowing that Taylor was learning to drive, had not been licensed to drive (see Code, Ann. Supp., 92A-9915), and was an "untrained driver," and also to find that Medlock should have foreseen, in the exercise of ordinary care, that Taylor might injure the property of others. Without considering the question of liability as between Taylor and Medlock for the damage to the property bailed, Medlock's automobile, the court was authorized to find that Medlock's negligence, concurring with Taylor's, was the proximate cause of the damage to the plaintiffs' property, and so to render judgment against Medlock. See NuGrape Bottling Co. v. Knott, 47 Ga. App. 539 (1) (171 S. E. 151); Crisp v. Wright, 56 Ga. App. 338 (192 S. E. 390); Burks v. Green, 85 Ga. App. 327, 329 (69 S. E. 2d 686).
The court properly refused a new trial.
Judgment affirmed. Felton, C. J., and Quillian, J., concur.
Eugene C. Black, Louis Peacock, contra.
Robert W. Reynolds, for plaintiff in error.
DECIDED OCTOBER 5, 1954.
Saturday May 23 03:43 EDT


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