Shafer v. Monte Mansfield Motors

In Shafer v. Monte Mansfield Motors, 91 Ariz. 331, 372 P.2d 333 (1962), Shafer filed a negligence action against an auto dealership after he was injured by a third party driving a vehicle stolen from the dealer's lot. 91 Ariz. at 331-32, 372 P.2d at 333. The lot was unfenced and the ignition key had been left in the vehicle. Id. at 332, 372 P.2d at 333. The supreme court began its analysis in that case by noting "the prevailing view" that when, as in Arizona, there is no statute or ordinance dealing with leaving ignition keys in a vehicle, "there can be no liability" on the part of the owner. Id. at 332, 372 P.2d at 334. Characterizing the issue as involving "the scope of the duty owed by defendant," the court affirmed the trial court's directed verdict for the defendant because "the duty of one who leaves his keys in an unattended vehicle does not extend to a plaintiff injured in an accident with the converter of the car." Id. at 333-34, 372 P.2d at 335. It acknowledged that the scope of a defendant's duty encompassed risks that a reasonable person would recognize as a danger to the plaintiff or one in the plaintiff's situation, but rejected Schafer's argument that the defendant should have anticipated the risk of injury because of the frequency of joy riding in the area and the higher frequency of collisions occurring when a vehicle is driven by a joy rider or thief, explaining that Shafer had not introduced any evidence to establish those facts. Id. The court ruled, as a matter of law, that the dealership owed no duty of care to Shafer. Id.