Robert Christensen paid the purchase price for a motor vehicle, and the certificate of title was placed in his name as well as his wife, M. Taylor-Christensen. Both were listed as co-owners of the vehicle.  Christensen did not have a key to the vehicle, have access, or use the vehicle. Subsequent to the purchase of the vehicle, Taylor–Christensen negligently struck and killed Bowen who was changing a tire alongside the roadway.

The Fifth District held that Christensen was liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine because he retained an identifiable property interest in the vehicle for himself by having his name placed on the title as co-owner and certified to the Supreme Court.

The Court found that as a joint titleholder who had a legal right to encumber, sell, or take possession of the vehicle providing Christensen the right to exercise dominion and control over the vehicle whether he did or not.  Thus, he was found to have a beneficial interest to the vehicle and was subject to the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine.

 

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