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Deconstructing Constructive Ownership: Constructive Vehicle Ownership and a Failure to Communicate

Motor Vehicle Litigation / September 4, 2018

No-Fault practitioners should take note that in Willis v Doe, et al., unpublished opinion per curiam of the COA, 8-21-18 (Doc No. 338187), in reversing the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to Defendants, the COA relied heavily upon an affidavit from Plaintiff’s live-in girlfriend in reaching its decision that a fact-finder could reasonably infer her constructive ownership. Plaintiff’s deposition testimony supported the proposition of constructive ownership. However, Plaintiff was vague as to the extent of his girlfriend’s actual use of the vehicle. More specific testimony regarding the nature and extent of her actual use of the vehicle could have undermined her affidavit. Whether such testimony would have been outcome determinative is unclear, as the COA prefers that vehicle ownership be decided by fact-finders as, generally, it is a question of fact.

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