LEASING (GRAVES AMENDMENT) / 49 U.S. Code § 30106 that provides that the owner of a motor vehicle who leases such vehicle shall not be vicariously liable for harm that results from its use, operation or possession during the period of the lease – held: It preempts a Florida statute that imposes liability on a short-term lessor of a motor vehicle for the negligent acts of any person actually operating such leased vehicle.

Note that in its controversial decision in Vreeland v. Ferrer, 71 So. 3d 70, 73 (Fla. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 1557 (2012)[free copy available here], the Florida Supreme Court held that, “a state law claim brought against an aircraft lessor under Florida’s ‘dangerous instrumentality’ doctrine for the death of the leased aircraft’s passenger was not preempted by 42 U.S.C. §44112 because the passenger was killed while in the plane and not while on the ground beneath the plane”. Contemporaneous Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP newsletter

Rosado v. DaimlerChrysler Financial Services Trust., SC09-390 Slip copy (Supreme Court of Florida, April 4, 2013). Free copy available here.

COMMERCIAL (SET-OFF TO LOAN DAMAGES) / In lawsuit by lender GE Capital to recover moneys lent to acquire aircraft, magistrate rejected borrower / aircraft owner argument for “set-off” against damages otherwise due comprised of the sums borrower would have received from a lessee had plaintiff GE Capital not unreasonably withheld its consent to a lease of the collateralized aircraft thereby impeding defendants’ repayment of the subject loan.

Context here is an inquest on damages where borrower does not contest contractual obligation as borrower on loan secured by Boeing 737. Magistrate’s ruling based on two rationales: 

1. Loan documentation does not include a requirement that lender’s response to a request to proposed lease be “reasonable”. 

2. Loan Guarantee Agreement expressly provided that defendants waived any right to assert a set-off in the event of a default. 

3. In any event the lender’s refusal to consent to lease of the collateralized lease was in fact “reasonable” as documented by the writing plaintiff lender prepared to explain its reasoning at the time of refusal. 

General Electric Capital Corp. v. Gary, Slip copy, 2013 WL 390959 (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, January 31, 2013)(Magistrate Judge opinion to the U.S. District Court Judge). No free copy available at time of posting.  Continue reading

BRIEFLY NOTED / INSURANCE & MOTOR CARRIER (LEASING)

Ritter v. Penske Trucking Leasing Co., L.P., 2012 WL 6049186 (Wisconsin Court of Appeals, December 6, 2012). Free copy available here.

Court construction of insurance policy rejecting major truck lessor’s argument that insurance company should have accepted its tender of defense for claims against truck lessor for equipment failure of truck it had leased to operator of truck – where court found that policy covered only such operator of truck and made no mention of truck lessor. Continue reading