In response to a lawsuit, which it lost last week, Enterprise Rent A Car reiterated its procedures for handling manufacturers' vehicle recalls.
"If and when manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners park or ground their vehicles, we promptly do so," said Greg Stubblefield, executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Enterprise. "However, we also believe there are times when recalled vehicles need to be grounded regardless."
The issue of how rental car companies handle manufacturers' recalls has been put in the spotlight following the resolution last week of a lawsuit in Alameda County, Calif., where the jury awarded Chuck and Cally Houck $15 million in the traffic accident deaths of their two daughters, Jackie and Raechel.
"This was a long, complicated and difficult case for all involved, one that had to work its way through the court system to reach resolution," said Stubblefield. "But, more significantly, this is a terrible tragedy for the Houck family. Our hearts go out to them, and we are very sorry for their loss."
In the Houck case, neither Chrysler nor the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommended grounding the more than 400,000 PT Cruisers recalled in 2004. (Chrysler, the manufacturer of the PT Cruiser, was a defendant in the Houck lawsuit, but was dismissed due to bankruptcy in 2009.) Instead, owners were asked to contact their local dealers to schedule a service appointment.
"Given all we have learned, today we would ground the recalled PT Cruiser until repaired," Stubblefield said. "That is why we continue to work with our employees and automobile manufacturers on ways to improve our policies and procedures for handling recalls.
"We share the Houcks' goal of preventing anything like this happening again," Stubblefield said. "Of course, nothing can change this heartbreaking situation for the Houck family and, again, we are truly sorry for their terrible loss."