Florida Court Upholds Graves Amendment – Again

The constitutionality of the Graves Amendment, the federal law eliminating vicarious liability, was recently upheld by a Florida Court of Appeals. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals on December 12, 2007 upheld the preemptive authority of the Graves Amendment over state vicarious liability laws in the Bechina v Enterprise case.

The appellate court affirmed an April 24, 2007 decision by the 11th Circuit Court for final summary judgment in favor of Enterprise Leasing Company. In its opinion, the appellate court held that “motor vehicle leasing transactions unquestionably affect the channels of interstate commerce, the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, and intrastate activities substantially related to interstate commerce.”

TRALA and its Industry Council on Vehicle Renting and Leasing filed an amicus brief with the Third District Court of Appeals on the Bechina case. In support of Enterprise’s position, TRALA’s brief argued that Congress was well within its authority when it preempted state vicarious liability laws through the Graves Amendment. The TRALA brief was filed in September 2007.

The positive ruling on the Graves Amendment’s constitutionality is the second time that Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals has upheld the authority of the federal law. The first was on October 3, 2007 when it affirmed a decision by the 11th Circuit Court in favor of Avis Rent-A-Car System in the appeal of the Kumarsingh v. Avis case.

If you have any questions about TRALA’s work to protect federal law eliminating vicarious liability on behalf of the vehicle renting and leasing industry, please contact TRALA’s Tom James at tjames@trala.org or at 703-299-9120.

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