On November 29, 2000, a 25-year-old man was crossing New York's Delancey Street when the driver of a Budget rental car ran a red light and slammed into a van which careened into the crosswalk, striking the plaintiff as he was crossing Delancey Street. The plaintiff's spinal cord was dislocated at level T6, causing complete paraplegia from the chest down and other catastrophic injuries.
Kreindler attorneys Marc S. Moller and David C. Cook tried the case in December 2003 obtaining a $24.5 million verdict which included compensation for the victim for past and future loss of earnings, medical care, and pain and suffering. In January 2005, the trial judge, Milton A. Tingling Jr., JSC, upheld $20.3 million of the verdict, which was one of the highest such verdicts ever returned in New York State. An appeal was argued before the Appellate Court on October 27, 2005, which upheld most of the award.
With the Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court, declining to hear further appeal, the final chapter of what may be the last case under the law that holds rental car companies liable for the negligence of their drivers was likely written. The Court's decision upholds a record-setting $10 million dollar award for future pain and suffering for the victim, along with other damages.
"This is truly a 'David vs. Goliath' victory for our client," said Mr. Cook after the decision was rendered. "The court today reaffirmed what we have argued all along - innocent victims of such negligence on our roadways deserve protection under the law, especially in cases resulting in such tragedy."
"This, unfortunately, is likely the last case of its kind," said Mr. Moller. "Such protections have been eliminated by our Federal government and the current Administration, with no plan in place to protect innocent victims of rental car accidents. Seriously injured victims will be denied recoveries and may become public charges, with the taxpayer bearing the burden while large rental and leasing companies are relieved of responsibility for the harm their drivers cause. This is unfortunately the case, even though rental and leasing companies will allow just about anyone with a license and credit card to get behind the wheel of their cars. The effect of the recent Congressional legislation is to allow rental car companies to profit while victims suffer."