Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Lauvetz v. Alaska Sales and Service D/B/A National Car Rental case brief

Lauvetz v. Alaska Sales and Service D/B/A National Car Rental case brief summary
828 P.2d 162 (Alaska 1991)

Respondent car rental company sued petitioner driver seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the wreck of a van and alleging that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage (Alaska) entered partial summary judgment in favor of the rental company holding that the collision damage waiver (CDW) validly excluded damages as a result of drunk driving. The driver appealed.

The driver contended that the exclusions for drunk driving and recklessness were beyond the reasonable expectations of lessees accepting the rental company's standardized contract.


  • The court agreed. 
  • The court joined the large number of courts who refused to enforce damage waiver exclusions under a variety of circumstances. 
  • The issue was not drunk or reckless driving but whether a purchaser of a CDW reasonably expected the waiver to be subject to any exclusions. 
  • The court concluded that a consumer would not reasonably expect a CDW to be less than complete. 
  • A driver would reasonably expect a CDW, at a not inconsiderable rate per day, to relieve him of responsibility even if the damage were caused by his fault. 
  • The average car driver would not parse that fault into fine legal categories of negligence, recklessness, or volitional conduct.

The grant of partial summary judgment in favor of the car rental company on the enforceability of the CDW exclusions was reversed and remanded.

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