Avis Rent-A-Car System Dismissed in Safety Negligence Case

In a final ruling Nov. 17, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge said that Avis Rent-A-Car System LLC. did not have “specific duty” to equip a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer with optional side curtain airbags, and that failing to do so did not breach the company’s general duty to ensure the safety of its fleet, according to Leagle Inc.

Mark Noveck rented the Trailblazer from Avis and was involved in a rollover accident. He argued that if the vehicle had been equipped with the optional side curtain airbags, he wouldn’t have been ejected from the vehicle and subsequently suffered from serious injuries. He also sued General Motors Corp., which was dismissed form the case pursuant to a settlement agreement with Noveck.

Avis moved for a summary judgment and stated that it should be included as a third-party beneficiary of the settlement agreement between GM and Noveck. A district court denied Avis’ motion, but granted it with respect to strict liability and negligence, eventually to find that Avis was an intended third-party beneficiary of the settlement agreement. The judge here first ruled that Avis was not negligent in installing the optional safety equipment.

Noveck then appealed in 2010 as an aggrieved party, but the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the ruling by the district court, and added that Avis’ duty in providing a safe vehicle — a duty that includes a reasonable physical inspection — was met in this case because of the trusted name of GM manufacturing and because it wasn’t something that could be found under a reasonable inspection.

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