DEERINGS WEST NURSING CENTER v. SCOTT
787 S.W.2d 494 (1990)
DEERINGS WEST NURSING CENTER, A DIVISION OF HILLHAVEN CORPORATION, Appellant,
Velma Ponder SCOTT, Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Texas, El Paso.
March 14, 1990.
Rehearing Overruled May 2, 1990.
John A. "Jad" Davis, Kemp, Smith, Duncan & Hammond, Midland, for appellant.
John H. Green, Odessa, for appellee.
Before FULLER, WOODARD and KOEHLER, JJ.
This is an appeal from a judgment for $35,000.00 actual damages and $200,000.00 punitive damages, founded upon the jury's finding that the Appellant was both negligent and grossly negligent in the hiring of an unlicensed nurse employee who assaulted the Appellee in its nursing home. We affirm.
On November 2, 1986, at approximately 5:30 a.m., eighty-year-old Velma Ponder Scott came to Deerings to visit her infirm older brother. It was her habit to come at all hours, though it was contended that she had been informed to restrict her visitation to certain hours. On that particular morning, Ken Hopper, an unlicensed, approximately thirty-six-year-old, 6 foot 4 inch, nurse employee, attempted to prevent Scott from visiting. He testified that he was attempting to usher Scott from the premises when she fell while resisting. She testified that Hopper, appearing greatly agitated, yelled out that she had been told not to come before 9:00 a.m. Upon his approach, she threw up her hands but was hit on the chin. He slapped her down and followed her to the floor, pinning her there with his knee upon her chest.
Point of Error No. One alleges that there is no evidence to sustain the finding that the failure of Hopper to have a Texas nursing license was a proximate cause of Scott's damages.
In considering a "no evidence" legal insufficiency point, we consider only the evidence which tends to support the jury's findings and disregard all evidence and inferences to the contrary. Garza v. Alviar,395 S.W.2d 821 (Tex.1965). The nursing home had a duty to exercise reasonable care in the selection of its medical staff. In Texas, it is akin to the doctrine of negligent entrustment, which places a duty on an automobile owner to determine the driving competency of a person to whom he entrusts his automobile. Park North General Hospital v. Hickman,703 S.W.2d 262 (Tex.App.—San Antonio
1985, writ ref'd n.r.e.). To establish the automobile owner's liability in a negligent entrustment case, there must be a showing of: (1) entrustment of a vehicle by the owner; (2) to an unlicensed, incompetent or reckless driver; (3) that the owner knew or should have known to be unlicensed; (4) that the driver was negligent on the occasion in question; and (5) that the driver's negligence proximately caused the accident. Schneider v. Esperanza Transmission Company,744 S.W.2d 595 (Tex. 1987). Punitive damages can be imposed if the owner of the vehicle knows or should have known that the entrusted driver was incompetent or habitually reckless, and the owner was grossly negligent in entrusting the vehicle to that driver. For entrustment to be a proximate cause, the defendant entrustor should be shown to be reasonably able to anticipate that an injury would result as a natural and probable consequence of the entrustment. Id. Liability of the owner does not arise out of the relationship of the parties, but is based on the theory that an automobile may become a dangerous instrumentality if placed in the hands of an incompetent or reckless driver, and that an owner is negligent who knowingly places his car in the hands of such a driver. Butler v. Spratling,237 S.W.2d 793 (Tex. Civ.App.—Fort Worth), rev'd on other grounds, 150 Tex. 369, 240 S.W.2d 1016 (1951). Deviation from the scope of the driver's authority does not relieve the negligent entrustor from consequent liability. Frontier Theatre, Inc. v. Whisenant,291 S.W.2d 395 (Tex.Civ.App.—El Paso 1956, writ dism'd by agr.).