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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Agrees with TRALA, Reverses Lower Court Ruling on Grimes Case

This week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with TRALA and reversed a lower court's ruling on a breach of contract dispute between Enterprise Leasing Company of Philadelphia and Mrs. Christina Grimes.
 
You may view a copy of the decision by clicking here.
 
TRALA's Industry Council for Vehicle Renting and Leasing submitted an amicus brief on March 24, 2014 in support of Enterprise in the case argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  In the brief, TRALA argued that the obligations of the customer pursuant to the rental agreement relating to loss of use and diminishment of value of the rental vehicle were essential elements of the contract and must be adhered to or all rental contracts could face similar challenges.
 
The Grimes case involved an Enterprise vehicle renter that alleged breach of contract and other violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL).  This occurred after Mrs. Grimes damaged a rental vehicle and a claim was made against Mrs. Grimes for the cost of repair, plus loss of use, diminishment in value and administration fees per the signed rental contract.  Mrs. Grimes refused to pay for the loss of use, diminishment in value and administrative fees.
 
The original trial court granted Enterprise's motion to dismiss the case claiming that Mrs. Grimes suffered no loss since she never paid the requested charges and that damaging a rental vehicle does not constitute breach of contract.  More importantly, the court held that to bring a claim under the UTPCPL the plaintiff must allege that a misrepresentation occurred resulting in harm and the plaintiff never made such a claim.
 
The plaintiff appealed the trial court decision to the appellate division.  The appellate division sustained the dismissal of the breach of contract claim but reversed the dismissal of the UTPCPL claim.  While the court did not rule Enterprise violated the UTPCPL, the appellate division held that Mrs. Grimes had sufficiently pled her case to pursue a claim that there was deceptive conduct which resulted in confusion or misunderstanding and that attempting to collect the fees could possibly constitute harm given that she had to retain legal counsel.
 
The PA Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and TRALA's Industry Council held a call in which it determined to file an amicus in support of Enterprise.  At the heart of the case was whether a signed rental agreement is a binding contract to which all parties must adhere.
 
You can view a copy of the Industry Council's amicus brief by clicking here.
 
If you have any questions regarding this court decision or the issue overall, please contact Jake Jacoby at jjacoby@trala.org or at 703-299-9120.