The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that CSYG Inc., an Avis licensee, wouldn’t be held liable for $54 million in jury verdicts over a stolen rental car crash that seriously injured two women in Atlanta.
The court ruled in Avis’s favor in a case related to whether a car rental company could be held liable for injuries to third parties caused by a driver of a stolen rental car.
Chief Justice Harold D. Melton wrote for the majority that Avis Budget Group, Avis Rent A Car System LLC, and others involved in the operation of an Atlanta rental car lot were not liable for the criminal acts of an employee of the Avis licensee CSYG Inc.
On Aug. 23, 2013, Byron Perry stole a Ford Edge SUV from CSYG Inc.’s rental car lot where he worked after the facility closed for the day. He intended to sell the vehicle and drove around Atlanta looking for a potential buyer. Before he could sell the vehicle, a police officer pulled him over for driving erratically. Perry sped off to try to evade the officer. He reached 73 miles per hour, lost control of the SUV, and crashed into a wall where Brianna Johnson and Adrienne Smith were sitting, seriously injuring them.
Johnson and Smith each filed a lawsuit alleging claims of negligence and vicarious liability against Avis Rent A Car, Avis Budget Group, Avis’s regional security manager, and the Avis licensee CSYG Inc.
In this case, the evidence demanded the conclusion that the subsequent accident caused by Perry’s criminal conduct was not a probable or natural consequence that could have been reasonably foreseen by the defendants (Avis Budget Group, Avis Rent A Car, CSYG Inc.). The evidence didn’t show that the defendants could have reasonably foreseen that Perry would lead police on a high-speed chase after stealing a car and then crash the vehicle, causing serious injuries.