David Waterman Obtains Pre-Answer Voluntary Dismissal of Vicarious Liability Claim filed in Clay County, Iowa Based on the Graves Amendment

David Waterman

David Waterman obtained a pre-answer voluntary dismissal for Lane & Waterman’s client, a leasing company. The case arose from a motor vehicle accident involving a leased vehicle that collided with Plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff filed suit in the Iowa District Court for Clay County against the driver for negligence and against the leasing company that owned and leased the vehicle for vicarious liability. Waterman filed a pre-answer motion for summary judgment on the vicarious liability action, arguing that Plaintiff could not recover because the claim was preempted by the Graves Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 30106(a). The Graves Amendment provides that the owner of a rented or leased vehicle “shall not be liable under the law of any State” for the “harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the period of the rental or lease” where the owner proves (1) “the owner (or an affiliate of the owner) is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles,” and (2) “there is no negligence or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the owner (or an affiliate of the owner).” 49 U.S.C. § 30106(a) (emphasis added). In the motion, Waterman analyzed Martin v. Crook, No. 08–1711, 2009 WL 2392077, at *2 (Iowa App. 2009), in which the Iowa Court of Appeals acknowledged the plaintiffs’ claims were preempted by the Graves Amendment. In response to the filing of the motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims against the leasing company.

David C. Waterman spent more than four years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida where he served as a federal prosecutor in the Appellate and Criminal Divisions. As a federal prosecutor, David argued appeals before the Eleventh Circuit and directed federal and local law enforcement agencies in grand jury and wiretap investigations. In 2020, David joined Lane & Waterman (the fifth generation in his family to practice at L&W). At Lane & Waterman, David’s practice areas include civil litigation, white collar criminal defense, government regulatory and compliance, and appeals.


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