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Supreme Court strikes out negligence suit filed by tourist against car rental company

Published:Thursday | March 11, 2021 | 9:59 AM
Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman, who represented the company, told The Gleaner that the company succeeded on summary judgment application based on the pleadings on both sides.

A negligence claim brought by an American tourist to recover millions from a car rental company following an accident in May 2012 has been struck out by the Supreme Court.

Fairly New Car Rental Company had rented a car to a man who negligently drove in front of a tour bus on which 40-year-old New Jersey teacher Victoria Fletcher was a passenger.

She suffered serious injuries arising from the tour bus driver taking evasive action in response to the conduct of the driver in the rented vehicle.

Following the incident, she filed a suit in May 2018 against several parties including the rental car company.

Last week, the rental car company challenged the claim and asked the court for it to be struck out.

Following the submission, the application was upheld.

Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman, who represented the company, told The Gleaner that the company succeeded on summary judgment application based on the pleadings on both sides.
 
In court documents, the company contended that at the time of the accident, it was a company incorporated under the Companies Act of Jamaica and was engaged in the business of hiring out motor vehicles.

It said it had a hiring agreement with one of the defendants in the suit to rent the motor vehicle for a few days for purposes exclusively determined by the defendant, therefore it was not in breach of statutory duty.

The company stated that the customer was not its servant or agent at the time of the accident.

It also stated that the company was not in existence at the time the claim was filed as it was struck from the list of registered companies in January 2018.

“It is a very important case for the public to digest in that it demonstrates that people who are renting motor vehicles to others have to ensure that the persons who they are renting the vehicle are not acting as their servants or agents,” Wildman said.

“We were successful because we were able to show in law that the company did not rent the motor vehicle to the defendant as its servant or agent,’ Wildman explained.

Fletcher’s claim against the other defendants is pending in the Supreme Court.

The tour bus company, the driver of the bus, and the driver of the motor car are the remaining defendants.

- Barbara Gayle, Contributor

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