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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On June 30, 2004, a truck pulling a wide load was stopped in the eastbound lane of Highway 67 on the narrow, steel-encased Brazos River Bridge. As traffic stacked up behind the truck, a van came to a stop several vehicles behind the wide load. Joseph Heppler’s pickup truck rear-ended the van and then swerved into the westbound lane into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer driven by Brent Shupe. Shupe’s tractor trailer collided with Heppler’s pickup, shearing the pickup’s fuel tank and causing a fire that injured Heppler’s passengers. Shupe then lost control of the tractor trailer and struck a Toyota driven by John Lingafelter in the eastbound lane, damaging the car and injuring the occupants. Lingafelter and his passengers (the Lingafelter plaintiffs) sued Heppler, Shupe, JCJ Trucking, and Midwest Coast Transport (MCT). After the Lingafelter plaintiffs settled with Heppler for a $20,000 insurance policy limit, Heppler’s passengers intervened in the suit. The Lingafelter and Heppler plaintiffs maintained the suit against Shupe, JCJ Trucking and MCT for damages arising from Shupe’s negligence. The plaintiffs’ theories of recovery against JCJ Trucking and MCT included vicarious liability as Shupe’s employers; direct liability for negligently training, licensing, and approving Shupe as a driver; and negligent entrustment. The jury charge contained one liability question addressing the alleged negligence of the defendants. During the charge conference, instead of requesting a separate question on negligent entrustment, the plaintiffs requested the following instruction: “As to Midwest Coast Transport d/b/a MCT, ‘negligence’ means entrusting a vehicle to an incompetent or reckless driver if the entrustor knew or should have known that the driver was incompetent or reckless. Such negligence is a proximate cause of a collision if the negligence of the driver to whom the vehicle was entrusted is a proximate cause of the collision.” The trial court refused this instruction but did provide definitions of negligence, ordinary care, proximate cause, sole proximate cause and sudden emergency. In Question 1 of the jury charge, the trial court inquired whether the negligence of Shupe, MCT or Heppler proximately caused the accident. The jury answered “yes” for Heppler and “no” for MCT and Shupe. The trial court also submitted a question asking the jury to determine the percentage of the negligence attributable to each defendant. The jury answered “100%” for Heppler and “0%” for MCT and Shupe. The jury also answered “$0″ to each of seven damages questions. The trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against all plaintiffs. A divided court of appeals reversed the trial court’s verdict and remanded for a new trial on grounds that the trial court erred by not including the requested jury instruction on negligent entrustment in its charge to the jury. HOLDING:The court reverses the court of appeals’ judgment, and renders judgment that the plaintiffs take nothing. The liability question answered by the jury asked whether the negligence of Shupe proximately caused the accident. The jury’s answer of “no” to this question determined that either Shupe was not negligent or, if he were, his negligence did not proximately cause the accident. The jury’s negative finding on this question negated the unsubmitted negligent entrustment issue as a matter of law. By specifically declining to find that Shupe was negligent on the occasion in question or that his negligence proximately caused the accident, the jury provided its answer to the negligent entrustment issue � and the vicarious liability issue � elsewhere in the verdict. In addition, the jury’s finding that zero percent of the negligence causing the accident was attributable to Shupe and MCT precluded a finding of proximate cause against them. Therefore, even if the negligent entrustment instruction had been submitted, it would not have altered the verdict. Because there is sufficient evidence to support the jury’s liability finding as to Heppler, the trial court’s omission of the negligent entrustment instruction, if error, was harmless. OPINION:Per curiam.

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