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Peter R. Benson v. Budget Rent A Car System

September 29, 2011

PETER R. BENSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
BUDGET RENT A CAR SYSTEM INC. AND JNR ADJUSTMENT COMPANY, INC.,
DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Peter Benson brings this action against Budget Rent A Car, an American car rental company. Benson claims Budget Rent A Car violated the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Uniformity Act, 73 Pa.C.S. § 2270.2 et. seq. and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.*fn1

The complaint alleges that Budget Rent A Car overbills customers in Pennsylvania for damage to rental cars. Budget Rent A Car filed a motion for summary judgment as to these claims. For the following reasons, I will grant in part and deny in part the Defendant‟s motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Peter Benson entered into a written contract with Budget Rent A Car, Inc. for the rental of a Budget vehicle. Mr. Benson did not purchase the loss damage waiver (LDW) coverage for the rental vehicle. See Plaintiff‟s Response to Defendant‟s Motion for Summary Judgment at 2. He believed any loss would be covered by his automobile insurance and his credit card insurance. Id.

The rental document*fn2 signed by Mr. Benson provides:

Before purchasing LDW, renter should check if own insurance covers damage to and loss of the car, the limit of coverage and deductible. If the renter declines LDW, renter may be liable for up to the retail fair market value (less salvage) of the car, regardless of fault, unless ordinary negligence is excluded by law. Repairs are at Budget‟s cost. Read LDW terms on the rental document jacket terms and conditions, including exclusions from LDW.

See Plaintiff‟s Statement of Additional Facts at 1; Defendant‟s Response to Plaintiff‟s Additional Statement of Facts at 10. The rental jacket terms and conditions state:

If you do not accept LDW, or if the car is lost or damaged as direct or indirect result of violation of paragraph 14, you are responsible; and you will pay us for all loss of or damage to the car regardless of cause, or who, or what caused it. If the car is damaged, you will pay our estimated repair cost, or if, in our sole discretion, we determine to sell the car in its damaged condition, you will pay the difference between the car‟s retail fair market value before it was damaged and the sale proceeds . . . . As part of our loss, you‟ll also pay for loss of use of the car, without regard to our fleet utilization, plus an administrative fee, plus towing and storage charges, if any ("Incidental Loss").

See Plaintiff‟s Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant‟s Motion for Summary Judgment at 10. The rental document states:

By signature, I acknowledge receipt of all notices which appear on this rental document. I agree to the terms and conditions including who may drive the car, which is stated on the rental document jacket provided.

See Plaintiff‟s Statement of Additional Facts at 3-4. The rental jacket states:

These terms and conditions, the rental document, signed by you, and a return record with computed rental charges together constitute the rental agreement ("agreement") between you and Budget Rent a Car System, Inc. . . . . Further references to the "rental document" alternately mean the front of these terms, if there is no separate rental document.

The rental agreement provides that Budget, at its discretion, can repair the damaged vehicle or sell the vehicle. See Defendant‟s Brief in Support of Summary Judgment at 3. If it chooses to sell the vehicle, it can charge the customer the retail fair market value of the car prior to the accident less the sales proceeds. Id. The rental agreement also provides that ...


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