Partners John Ranucci and Maria Lampasona successfully defended a widely recognized brand in the car rental industry in a case arising from injuries sustained by a local police officer when he was involved in a collision with a stolen rental car. Plaintiffs, the police officer and his wife, alleged that the car rental company negligently rented the vehicle to an impostor. The vehicle ultimately ended up in the hands of another person who used the vehicle to commit a crime, thereafter leading police on a high speed chase. The plaintiff police officer was injured during this chase, and he alleged that the rental car company’s negligent rental “directly caused” the officer’s harm.
In a Motion for Summary Judgment, Mr. Ranucci and Ms. Lampasona argued that the police officer’s action was barred by a primary assumption of the risk doctrine known as the “Firefighter’s Rule,” which prevents an action by a police officer against a party whose allegedly negligent conduct precipitated the officer’s presence at the accident scene. The Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, agreed and dismissed the case on the grounds that the rental car company owed no duty of care to the police officer with respect to the original negligence that caused the police officer’s intervention.