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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Enterprise Rent-a-Car Changes Stance on Government Oversight of Recalled Vehicles

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This is a follow-up to my February 21, 2012 blog post titled “Rental Car Roulette: Will Car Rental Companies Stop Renting Recalled Vehicles?”.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on February 24th that Enterprise Rent-a-Car has reversed its stance on government oversight of policies for renting or selling vehicles affected by a safety recall. As of Wednesday, February 22, 2012, Enterprise was still claiming that the oversight was “unnecessary and based on inaccurate, obsolete data.” However, Enterprise finally succumbed after the website Change.org collected more than 130,000 signatures in protest of Enterprise’s policy.

Enterprise released a statement which read, in part:

"In the past, we believed that this step was unnecessary, but a growing number of people, including our customers and business partners, clearly want more assurance on this critical issue. We hear them and what we've heard has caused us to rethink our stance."

Much of the support for the online petition drive comes from the Houck case, where two sisters Rachel and Jacquie Houck were killed in a Chrysler PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise that was the subject of a safety recall related to the power steering system, but had not been repaired. Enterprise knew about the defect, but chose to rent the vehicle out at least 3 times without repairing the defect. As Rachel and Jacquie drove down Highway 101, the defective PT Cruiser caught fire in the engine compartment. The vehicle filled with smoke. Because of the smoke, the girls could not see and the power steering failure made it impossible to steer the vehicle. The car swerved across the median strip and the car was hit by an oncoming truck. Both girls were killed.

The Houck family was eventually awarded $15 million in a jury trial, but not before Enterprise engaged in frivolous defense tactics that drug the agony on for the girls’ parents for years.

If NHTSA or a manufacturer has issued a recall, that means – by definition – that there is an unreasonable safety risk. Car rental companies should not be permitted to simply disregard such recalls and send these defective vehicles out onto the streets with unsuspecting drivers.

[More on Rental Car Defects]

[More Faces of Lawsuit Abuse]

(c) Copyright 2012 Brett A. Emison

Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.