Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - November 15, 2010

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Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1055.  Plaintiffs brought an action against a rental car company after the driver of a rental car struck and killed plaintiffs’ son.  Plaintiffs claimed that the rental car company had a duty to conduct an electronic search of the driving record of the customer before entrusting a vehicle to the customer.  The court held otherwise, finding that as a matter of law, a rental car agency is not liable for negligent entrustment where the agency has fully complied with the requirements of Vehicle Code Sections 14604 and 14608 and the customer does not appear impaired or otherwise unfit to drive at the time of rental.  (For some reason this case has two cites.  One is 188 Cal.App.4th 1055, and one is 188 Cal.App.4th 822.)

Chan v. Lund (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1159.  A settling party sought to set aside a settlement agreement which was reduced to writing on the eve of trial on the basis that his attorney had purportedly coerced him to enter into the settlement agreement by threatening to withdraw from representation.  The court held that the attorney’s conduct as a matter of law did not constitute extortion under the Penal Code.  The attorney obtained no property as a result of allegedly threatening to withdraw from representation and there was no evidence that the opposing parties in the case who also entered into the settlement agreement knew of any purported threat by the other party’s attorney to withdraw.  The court further held that there was no basis for rescission of the settlement under Civil Code Section 1689(b)(1) because the opposing parties were not responsible for any alleged acts of economic duress or undue influence or fraud.  Even if the attorney had offered to discount his fees as an inducement to settle, the Rules of Professional Conduct did not preclude such an offer.

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