In a 42-26 vote, the California Assembly has approved a bill that would
stop Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and other rental companies from selling or
renting vehicles that have been recalled until the autos are fixed. The
bill was introduced by Assemblyman Bill Monning following the 2004 deaths
of two sisters that were riding in an Enterprise rental. The Orange County
Register reports that the parents of Jacqueline and Raechel Houck are
among the bill’s supporters.
The Houck sisters, Jacqueline, 20, and Raechel, 24, were not aware that their upgraded rental, a PT cruiser, had been recalled over a power steering defect could cause an underhood engine fire. This safety issue caused Raechel to become unable to steer the PT Cruiser while driving. The PT cruiser then ended up crossing the median of US 101, crashing into a tractor-trailer, and catching fire. The siblings died in the tractor-trailer crash.
Houcks’ family would go on to sue Enterprise for the women’s California wrongful deaths. During the case, their car accident lawyers found that the Enterprise branch that the sisters had gone to had rented the PT cruiser on three other occasions after it was recalled. Enterprise later admitted negligence and a jury awarded the girls’ family $15 million in wrongful death damages.
The bill now heads for the California Senate. If it becomes law, it would be the first one in the US of this kind.
Rental car companies have complained that bill may be “overly broad” in not recognizing that federal recall announcements often do not denote whether the problem is a non-safety defect or a safety-related issue. They also have said that some defects can be temporarily fixed until a permanent repair is made and still not pose a safety risk. The companies are saying they would prefer a national standard.
Our auto products liability lawyers have seen the devastating consequences that can result when someone is injured in a traffic crash caused by an auto defect. We are not afraid to go up against auto large manufacturers or other parties responsible for your injuries or your loved one’s death and fight for your right to financial recovery.
Calif. Assembly approves rental car recall bill, Forbes/AP, April 28, 2011
After sisters die, bill targets rental cars, OC Register, April 28, 2011
Rent-a-Car Companies Putting Recalled Autos on the Road, ABC News, July 7, 2010
Contact our California auto defects lawyers today.