Search Results for ‘"new york" rental car’

Out of the past: New York adoptive families could face visitation demands from birthparents

Thank you to Naomi Riley for including me in her WSJ piece Thursday on a truly bad New York scheme to empower birthparents whose parental rights have been terminated to petition nonetheless for court-ordered visitation. The quotes from me:

In many cases adoptive parents do arrange with birthparents for some kind of contact after an adoption is completed. “Some adoptive parents are glad to agree to those conditions, and that’s fine for them. Where they have not, it is a very bad idea to adopt a presumption of enforcing such a long-term obligation on unwilling adopters,” notes Walter Olson, an adoptive parent and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

The legislation presents serious logistical concerns as well. What if an adoptive family wants to move across the country? Would the courts be able to prevent them? “Adoptive families are real families and deserve the full rights of other such families unless they have agreed to some other arrangement,” says Mr. Olson.

And more:

In a letter to Gov. Cuomo opposing the bill, the group New York Attorneys for Adoption and Family Formation explained that the law may also violate the due-process rights of adoptive parents. In 2000, they point out, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar Washington state law.

Both houses of the New York legislature have now passed the bill, which is supported by legal services groups like the Legal Aid Society of New York City but opposed by the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York (AFFCNY), the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), “which represents nonprofit foster care agencies statewide, and the New York Public Welfare Association (NYPWA), which represents county government child welfare directors.” [Michael Fitzgerald, Chronicle of Social Change] AFFCNY has more on its opposition here, and notes: “Adoptive families would have no choice but to hire and pay for legal representation for themselves.”

ATLA lobbies third branch to ignore car-leasing laws

We previously noted the important legislation passed by Congress in 2006 to protect deep-pocket car-leasing companies against vicarious liability for the accidents of its customers. As a result, the price paid by New Yorkers for leased vehicles dropped $600. Of course, that was money out of the pocket of trial lawyers, and ATLA’s litigation-lobby litigation arm, the Center for Constitutional Litigation, intervened with repeated efforts with judges to either ignore or strike down the statute. Several Florida state judges provided a tendentious reading of the statute to ignore it precisely when it was said to apply; a federal district judge refused, but instead struck down the regulation of the interstate transaction under the Commerce Clause.

One can applaud a narrower view of the federal government’s scope under the Commerce Clause, but this judge’s interpretation is contradictory to that of the Supreme Court’s and narrower even than Justice Scalia’s view, and perhaps even the view of the Supreme Court pre-Wickard: no court ever held that the federal government cannot regulate commercial automobile transactions. We’re looking forward to hearing the paranoid Constitution-in-Exile complainers on the left speaking up about the attempt by ATLA to strip the federal government of its powers.

CCL’s argument has been that the statute doesn’t regulate automobile transactions, but intrastate litigation. This is tendentious enough in state court (does civil liability under the ADA not regulate employment, but rather the litigation over intrastate employment?), but utterly absurd in a federal court where the parties are of diverse citizenship.

The ATLA press release is excited that the decision “gives rental car companies a powerful incentive to assure that their customers are adequately insured”—by forcing customers to purchase insurance that they may not want to purchase. Of course, nothing in the Graves Amendment forbade states from setting regulations requiring such minimum insurance; it just forbade trial lawyers from doing so in state court without state legislation. The litigation is a vivid reminder that getting legislators to act to enact desperately needed reforms is only the beginning of the process of fixing a broken civil justice system: one also needs judges who will follow the rule of law. (Vanguard v. Huchon (via Turkewitz); see also Graham v. Dunkley (NY Sup. Ct.)).

Congress pre-empts vicarious car-lease liability

In a surprising stroke, Congress has included in its new transportation bill a provision that would abolish New York’s “vicarious liability” law, which places auto manufacturers and independent leasing firms on the hook for unlimited vicarious liability when cars they lease are later involved in accidents, regardless of whether the lessors have been negligent or behaved wrongfully (see my N.Y. Post op-ed of Jun. 9, 2003 as well as many posts on this site including Feb. 2, Sept. 5, etc.) The law, stoutly defended by New York’s trial lawyers and certain of their allied “consumer groups”, has driven most of the largest automakers out of the leasing business in New York and led to a steep hike in lease charges for those that remain. The bill is headed to the desk of President Bush, who is expected to sign it. (Tom Incantalupo, “Auto leasing may return to NY”, Newsday, Aug. 2; Joe Mahoney, “New law may cut car lease cost”, New York Daily News, Aug. 3; Ian Bishop, “Boost for NY Car Leasers”, New York Post, Aug. 3; Michael Cooper, “Congress Passes Bill Nullifying a State Law, and Making It Easier to Lease Cars in New York”, New York Times, Aug. 4)(many links via Henry Stern’s

The provision is found as sec. 1409 at p. 219 of the 1075-page bill, and is reprinted below in the post’s extended entry (definitions omitted). Among the bill’s notable features: it will take effect immediately to block newly filed vicarious suits, including those over accidents before the law’s effective date; it apparently applies to short-term car rentals of the Hertz and Avis kind, which have also been much discouraged in New York by the vicarious liability law; and (from a casual reading, at least) it also appears to pre-empt the laws of other states which impose some degree of vicarious liability after a crash on lessors (up to a capped figure of damages, that is; only New York imposes unlimited liability).

“All it will do is enrich leasing companies and automobile companies,” charged Shoshana Bookson of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association — a prediction whose accuracy should be testable soon enough. (Alan Wechsler, “Congress paves way for cheaper vehicle leases”, Albany Times-Union, Aug. 3). And according to the Staten Island Advance, Charles Carrier, a spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, “said the law change would be unfortunate because it ‘means that companies can rent to anyone — even someone drunk — and not incur a liability.'” (Robert Gavin, “Bill would scrap N.Y. law allowing crash victims to sue leasing firms”, Aug. 3). In point of fact, sec. (a)(2) of the bill specifically preserves liability in cases of “negligence or criminal wrongdoing” by the owner or its affiliate.

P.S. Well, it didn’t take long to falsify Ms. Bookson’s prediction. An Aug. 4 editorial in the New York Daily News (“Congress repeals the Shelly Tax”) says: “Expecting the President’s signature, a number of car companies that fled the New York market years ago are now planning their return. And several others announced immediate $600 price reductions, proof positive that [assembly speaker and trial lawyer Sheldon] Silver was the sole reason New Yorkers have unfairly paid extra for leasing a car. Call it the Shelly Tax, and thank heaven, or Washington, that it is finally gone.”

Read On…

“The Great Car-Rental Wipeout”

William Tucker, writing in the New York Sun (Apr. 1), explores the ruinous consequences of the state’s vicarious-liability law for independent car rental agencies (via Spartacus). See our piece of last Jun. 9 as well as Jul. 14 and links from there. More: Chrysler has now joined GM and Ford in refusing to lease in New York, while Honda has resumed offering leases, but at special high prices intended to compensate for the state law. (“Chrysler to stop leasing in New York”, Bloomberg/Detroit Free Press, Mar. 26)

March 7 roundup

  • What’s worse than undermining Section 230, charter of Internet freedom? Turning it all into a pinata for trial lawyers [No go, NRO; earlier on SESTA and FOSTA] Carve-out to Section 230 in name of fighting sex trafficking could erode protection for other businesses against being sued [WSJ editorial] More: Karol Markowicz;
  • “If You Owe the IRS Over $51,000, It Can Trap You in the United States” [Brian Doherty, Reason]
  • How far can a theft ring go in stealing a rental vehicle before the police step in? [related Twitter threads, Sharky Laguana and Noah Lehmann-Haupt]
  • “Federalism as a Check on Executive Authority,” panel at Federalist Society 2017 Annual Texas Chapters Conference with Caitlin Halligan, Scott Keller, Ernest Young, moderated by Hon. Jeff Brown [video]
  • Revisiting an auto scare: “Will the Corvair Kill You?” [Larry Webster, Hagerty, earlier here and here]
  • No, peacocks-in-the-airline-cabin isn’t really some failure of “fetishizing [individualism over] communal well-being.” It’s a failure of collectivized legal compulsion overriding contract and choice [David Leonhardt, New York Times; Elizabeth Preske, Travel and Leisure on underlying episode; earlier on emotional-support and other service animals]

A Ban On “Walking While Wired”?

[cross-posted from Cato at Liberty]

New York state senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) is crusading to ban pedestrians’ use of cellphones and other mobile devices while crossing the street. It’s for your own good, you must understand:

“When people are doing things that are detrimental to their own well being, then government should step in.”

The Daily Caller asked me to write an opinion piece about this proposal so I just did. Excerpt:

Phone use on the street has become near-ubiquitous in recent years, yet over nearly all that time — nationally as in Gotham — pedestrian death rates were falling steadily, just as highway fatalities fell steadily over the years in which “distracted driving” became a big concern.

In the first half of 2010, the national statistics showed a tiny upward blip (0.4 percent), occasioned by a relative handful of fatalities in a few states. Even a spokesman for the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins, seems to agree it’s premature to jump to conclusions: “You don’t want to overreact to six months of data,” he told columnist Steve Chapman.

Like others who seek quasi-parental control over adults, Sen. Kruger tends to infantilize his charges. He told the Times: “We’re taught from knee-high to look in both directions, wait, listen and then cross. You can perform none of those functions if you are engaged in some kind of wired activity.”

This drew proper scorn from columnist Chapman: “Actually, you can perform all those functions and dance an Irish jig, even with text messages or rock music bombarding you.” That some ear bud devotees don’t take due caution is no reason to pretend they can’t.

C.S. Lewis, Lily Tomlin and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood all get walk-on parts as well.

Happy Meal lawsuit, cont’d

My New York Daily News opinion piece stirred up a whole lot of discussion: at Megan McArdle/The Atlantic, Hans Bader/CEI, Mike Riggs/Daily Caller “TheDC Morning”, Outside the Beltway, Radley Balko, AllahPundit/Hot Air, Never Yet Melted, Modeled Behavior, Above the Law, Twitter mentions, John Hayward/Human Events, Jammie Wearing Fool, Andrew Stuttaford/NRO “Corner”, Amy Alkon, Chris Robinette/TortsProf, Ira Stoll/Future of Capitalism, Tom Kirkendall, John Steele Gordon/Commentary, and my own write-up at Cato at Liberty.

Also: Check out the further information Ira Stoll has developed at his site about the meals San Francisco serves at its own schools, which seem to compare not at all favorably with the meals the city’s council has seen fit to ban.

Remember, this isn’t a once-every-so-often treat provided at parental discretion, like a Happy Meal — this is the food the state is serving for lunch in the essentially compulsory government schools. The fact that it’s McDonald’s rather than the government schools that are getting sued by this parent and advocacy group gives away what the lawsuit is really about. It’s not really about food, or calories — it’s about an attempt to increase the power of the state over private enterprise by restricting the power of the private enterprise to market its product. The suit isn’t about the “meal,” it’s about the “happy.”

More on the nutritional background: Patrick Basham and John Luik, “A Happy Meal Ban Is Nothing to Smile About”, Spiked Online; David Oliver. On the legal: Russell Jackson. And welcome listeners of Lars Larson’s Portland, Ore.-based radio show, which welcomed me as a guest to discuss the case Dec. 17.

Deep Pocket Files: Jason Lapp and Andrew Brzyski

Mary Brzyski worked for Skidmore Inc., in East Aurora, NY, where she drove a company car that was leased from Chrysler. In 2003, Brzyski loaned the car to her 19-year-old son, Andrew, who rear-ended Jason Lapp’s car, severely injuring him. Longtime readers know what happened next. Irrational New York law (Jul. 14, 2003, Apr. 2, 2004, Feb. 2, 2005) holds the lessor liable, even when, as here, they are three transactions away and never anticipated that a 19-year-old would be driving the car. Skidmore and Chrysler have settled for $8.2 million. (“$8.2 million settlement accepted in crash suit”, Buffalo News, Dec. 15). Congress has stepped in to the breach (Aug. 4, 2005), at least until the litigation lobby undoes that reform.

Aguilar v. Avis, cont’d

Some years back, Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court wrote a dissent in the widely noted harassment-law case of Aguilar v. Avis, in which the court ordered the drawing up of a list of forbidden words that employees of a rental car franchise were to be prohibited from using to each other on the job even in private conversation (see Sept. 11, 2000). The other day a New York Times editorial (“Disarmament in the Senate”, May 25) assailed Rogers for her supposedly extreme position in dissenting from Aguilar (which was decided 4-3), and James Taranto of the WSJ’s “Best of the Web” quite appropriately rises to her defense (May 27). As Taranto notes (but the Times somehow fails to), Justice Stanley Mosk, regarded as the California high court’s most liberal member, joined Brown in dissenting from Aguilar as a prior restraint on speech rights. For more, see Tim Sandefur, Sept. 23, 2004.