Florida Federal Court Upholds Graves Amendment

A U. S. District Court in Ocala held that the Graves Amendment pre-empted all Florida vicarious liability actions against rental vehicle owners.

The court held that the $100/300/500,000 cap on liability damages was not a “financial responsibility law” that would have exempted it from the Graves Amendment, and that the Graves Amendment was not unconstitutional because car rental activity fell squarely within the activities that the U.S. Congress has the power to regulate under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The case is entitled Garcia v. Vanguard Car Rental USA, Inc., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15335 (U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Ocala Division, March 5, 2007).

The Court noted in its lengthy opinion that “This is an important case of first impression. No other Federal Court has analyzed the preemptive scope of the Graves Amendment.”

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