Enterprise Rent-A-Car is being sued in Tulare County, Calif., court in a wrongful-death and product-liability lawsuit brought on by a driver of a rented 2006 Ford Expedition that crashed on Highway 99, killing three passengers visiting from England, including her parents, according to the Fresno Bee.
The lawsuit alleges that Enterprise supplied a vehicle that lacked the manufacturer’s factory-installed anti-rollover system, which automatically applies the brakes when the vehicle starts to fishtail.
This is the first lawsuit that accuses Enterprise of supplying a defective vehicle that has gone to trial, lawyer John Kristensen told the Fresno Bee.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car spokeswoman Christy Conrad told the newspaper the company would not comment about the lawsuit until the trial starts, because Superior Court Judge Melinda Reed asked the parties "to be mindful about speaking to the media until jury selection is complete.”
Jury selection was on Monday and Tuesday, with opening statements arguments starting today. The trial could take several weeks.
The crash involving the 2006 Ford Expedition occurred July 5, 2005.
A 55-year-old man, 53-year-old woman and 20-year-old man died in the accident. A 16-year-old passenger was left paralyzed and also is a plaintiff in the suit. The three victims were not wearing seat belts, and neither was the 16-year-old, the CHP said.
The driver, Kim Lay, then 30 and living in Fresno, and a female passenger were taken to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield with minor injuries. Officers said they believed they were wearing seat belts.
Conrad, the spokeswoman for Enterprise, said that although the suit was filed in Los Angeles, it was moved to Tulare County for the convenience of witnesses.