TRALA Files Amicus Brief with State Supreme Court in Michigan Liability Case

On September 12, 2019 TRALA submitted an amicus brief to the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the case of Robertson vs. U-Haul of Michigan.

The case revolves around a customer that rented a truck from U-Haul and then ultimately allowed the vehicle to be used by a third party, without the knowledge of U-Haul and that person committed a crime while utilizing the truck. After hearing arguments, a judge created a new “duty” to support a claim of negligence against U-Haul of Michigan that was neither negligent entrustment nor negligent maintenance. If the judge's ruling were to stand, even though the judgment was unpublished, it could create a new path for trial lawyers to circumvent the Graves Amendment with regards to liability based on ownership.
TRALA advised its Government Relations Committee of the impact this decision could have on the broader renting industry during its 2019 Annual Meeting in April. Since then, TRALA has been coordinating its amicus brief with a broad spectrum of representatives from different vehicle industries. In late August, the plaintiff's attorney in this case filed its long awaited comments to the State Supreme Court. On September 10, 2019, U-Haul filed its reply to the plaintiff's comments arguing for an appeal to the State Supreme Court.
You may view a copy of U-Haul's comments by clicking here.
In its amicus brief, TRALA, along with the American Car Rental Association, the American Trucking Associations, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, and the Michigan Auto Dealers Association, all encourage the Supreme Court to review the Robertson vs. U-Haul of Michigan case. Specifically, TRALA argues that it would place owners at risk for liability and would completely change the business model of renting a vehicle in the state.
In addition to the amicus filed by TRALA and its allies, the US Chamber of Commerce has agreed to file its own amicus brief in support of TRALA and U-Haul of Michigan after speaking to TRALA and its members. That amicus is expected to be filed next week.
TRALA expects the Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether or not to review this case within the next several weeks.
You may view a copy of the submitted amicus brief by clicking here.
While unpublished, TRALA was informed that a new suit has been filed raising claims based on this recent court decision. If left unchallenged, the case could very well set a precedent that could significantly harm companies that rent vehicles for any purpose.
For any questions regarding TRALA's amicus brief in support of U-Haul of Michigan or for additional information on this case, please contact Jake Jacoby at or by calling 703-299-9120.