An Enterprising Theory of Liability Against Car Rental Company Fails.
September 27, 2010
Miguel Mojica was once convicted of driving while ability impaired. But that was in the past, and when he walked into an Enterprise Rent a Car office in Wappingers Falls, NY one day in 2006, he held a valid NY driver license. He showed the license to the Enterprise agent, who checked that the photo and the expiration date were in order, and rented him a pick-up truck. Mojica then allegedly drove the truck while intoxicated, crashing into a police car and badly injuring a police officer.
The police officer sued Enterprise. Enterprise is, of course, protected from vicarious liability as the owner of the vehicle by the Graves Amendment, which prohibits such vicarious liability for the owners of rental cars. But the plaintiff sought to recover from Enterprise on a theory that it was negligent in not doing a full background check on Mojica's driving history.
A trial court in Dutchess County, New York, in the case of <i>Poluzzi v. Mojica</i>, has rejected the plaintiff's argument, holding that the law imposes no such duty on a car rental company to investigate the driving record of its customers who proffer a valid driver license.