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Wrongful Death Suit Against Rental Car Company, Plus Landlord-Tenant Matter

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By FindLaw Staff on September 29, 2010 6:11 PM

Flores v. Enter. Rent-A-Car Co., B215105, involved plaintiffs' suit for wrongful death, negligent entrustment, and punitive damages against a car rental company for their son's death, caused by one of defendant's renters (who allegedly had prior DUI convictions in the last 48 months), In affirming the judgment of the trial court, the court held that rental car companies have no duty to conduct an electronic search of the driving records of their customers before entrusting a vehicle to them, and as a matter of law, a rental car agency is not liable for negligent entrustment where the agency has fully complied with the requirements of Vehicle Code sections 14604 and 14608, and the customer does not appear impaired or otherwise unfit to drive at the time of rental.


Carter v. Cohen, B214393, concerned a challenge to the jury's determination that a tenant's excess rent payments amounted to $11,590 and an award of $25,575 in attorney's fees to the tenant, in a landlord-tenant dispute.  In affirming, the court held that the trial court did not err in permitting the tenant to assert her Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) claim.  The court also held that the trial court did not err in issuing the fee award as the trial court may properly award costs to a plaintiff who recovers less than the jurisdictional amount for an unlimited civil case when he or she reasonably and in good faith initiated the action believing that the ultimate recovery would exceed the jurisdictional limit.  Lastly, the matter is remanded to the trial court solely for a determination of the amount of attorney fees to be awarded to the tenant as the prevailing party on appeal.

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