Lowder v. Holley

In Lowder v. Holley, 120 Utah 231, 233 P.2d 350, 353 (1951), the Court observed that the obvious intent of the legislature was to protect innocent third parties from the negligence of minors to whom cars are furnished or who are permitted by the owners of the cars to drive them, by holding the owners responsible therefor. In most instances, actual permission by the owner to the minor to drive the car is impossible of direct proof. It is, of course, in the interest of the owner after an accident, to deny such permission. It is not necessary, therefore, in order for a plaintiff to establish a case against an owner of a car to prove that express consent to drive the car was given to the minor. It may be implied from past conduct. In that case, a father and truck owner testified that he had not at any time given his sixteen-year-old daughter permission to drive the truck. The daughter corroborated that refusal and testified that on the occasions when she had asked for permission, her father had refused because she did not have a driver's license. However, there was evidence that the daughter had learned to drive a car about four years previously and that she had driven the truck involved in the subject collision on a number of occasions. The truck was left at home in the driveway near the street on the day of the accident. No keys were needed to start the truck. All that was needed was to turn on the ignition switch. Two officers who investigated the accident testified that both the father and the daughter told them the father knew she drove the truck and that he allowed her to do it. Under these facts, this court held that the trial court as finder of the facts was fully justified in concluding that the daughter was driving the truck at the time of the accident with the implied consent, permission, and knowledge of her father. The Court observed that there was evidence that the daughter had driven the truck on a number of occasions, and it was reasonable to conclude that her father could not fail to be aware of such conduct. Because no action was taken to stop this driving, it can be assumed that it was done with the father's consent.