Ford Credit has announced that it plans to exit automobile leasing in NY after July 9, 2003, in response to a law that holds finance companies responsible for accidents involving their leasing customers. The vicarious liability law in NY has resulted in large payouts by finance companies to resolve litigation, yet the NY legislature failed to act on a bill that would have brought the state in line with the vast majority of U.S. states even though the NY Senate recently passed a bill eliminating legal exposure for finance companies. “We are very disappointed that the NY legislature adjourned without addressing this important issue,” said A.J.Wagner, Ford Credit’s Executive Vice President, North America. “While we are encouraged that the CT legislature recently passed a bill to limit vicarious liability, we have not seen a similar commitment in NY,” Wagner added. A NY jury recently rendered a $1 million verdict against Ford Credit after a young girl sued her father — and the finance company — when her father, driving his leased car, ran over her while she was sunbathing. Finance companies, banks, and independent auto leasing companies face several billion dollars in potential payouts involving hundreds of open vicarious liability lawsuits. These payouts continue to add to the costs of purchasing, leasing, and insuring vehicles.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials

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