Mauney v. Carroll (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-421-16, 8 pp.) (Chris Dillon, J.) Appealed from Burke County Superior Court (Yvonne Mims-Evans, J.) N.C. App.
Holding: Even though plaintiff did not own the Porsche he was driving when defendant allegedly damaged it, since he owned a lease interest in the car and was unable to use it for 37 days while it was being repaired, plaintiff may be able to prove “loss of use” damages.
We affirm summary judgment for defendant as to plaintiff’s claim for diminution of value damages; however, we reverse summary judgment for defendant as to plaintiff’s claim for loss of use damages.
Our Supreme Court has held that the owner of a vehicle damaged by the negligence of another may recover damages for loss of use of a vehicle during the time it is being repaired.
While plaintiff is not the title owner, he did own a lease interest in the Porsche. Thus, it was plaintiff who was deprived of his right to use the Porsche while it was being repaired. The lessor/title owner did not suffer any loss of use damage during this period because it had no right to use the Porsche for the duration of plaintiff’s lease.
Plaintiff presented evidence that it would have cost him $400 per day to lease the identical make and model car. Under his 27-month lease, plaintiff paid about $40 per day. Thus, there is some evidence of the cost to rent a replacement car.
However, plaintiff has a duty to mitigate his damages, and there is evidence that plaintiff refused offers from the insurance companies involved to provide a rental car while the Porsche was being repaired. Further, there was evidence that plaintiff actually used another vehicle available to him while the Porsche was being repaired, evidence which a jury could consider in calculating “loss of use” damages. It is for a jury to wade through the evidence to determine what amount, if any, plaintiff is entitled to recover for loss of use damages.
As a lessee, plaintiff does not have standing to seek damages for the diminution in value of the full ownership interest in the Porsche, as damages for this loss would be properly asserted by the lessor. Plaintiff admitted at his deposition that the lessor did not charge him for any diminution of value when plaintiff traded in the Porsche.
Even assuming plaintiff had a valid claim for diminution in the value of his lease interest, plaintiff failed to present competent evidence of the diminution in value of this interest.
Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part.