George Hinnenkamp, 89, can be forgiven for being as “surprised as hell” in being sued recently by two passengers involved in an accident in his car. First, he was not driving the car at the time. Second, the driver was the man who stole his car.
Hinnenkamp’s Thunderbird was stolen in June 2009 by a man he had hired to do odd jobs. Joseph Dinwiddie, 35, was driving with two other passengers–Nicole Annette Cunningham and Delano Oscar, when he crashed the car. While Dinwiddie is also sued, he was tried and convicted of auto theft for stealing the car in the first place. That practically leaves Hinnenkamp. Cunningham and Oscar claim that he bore responsibility because he allowed Dinwiddie to use the car.
I am not sure of the lawyer in this case, but it would appear frivolous on its face and has all of the markings of a strike suit. Yet, we have seen previous cases like this where the usual superseding intervening factor of a crime is ignored. Even suicidal drivers have found lawyers. This includes cases where accidents follow car thefts. Some lawyers take the approach of suing them all and letting God sort them out — despite ethical rules that call for more tailored and logical actions.
Of course, if the prosecutor and investigator take your car and crash it, you have not case for damages.
In the Oregon case, the mere fact that you allow a person to use your car is neither an invitation for car theft or reckless driving. The fact that he immediately called police makes the claim all the more meritless, in my view.
Source: Seattle Weekly