SANTA CRUZ, CA - A jury on June 9 awarded $15 million to the parents who filed a wrongful death suit against Enterprise Rent-A-Car of San Francisco after their daughters died in a crash while driving a rented car, the Mercury News reported.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car and parent company Enterprise Holdings have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the decision. Though the companies contested the lawsuit for five years, they acknowledged negligence in May, according to documents signed by their attorneys.
The two women killed in the crash were 24-year-old Raechel Houck and 20-year-old Jacqueline Houck of Santa Cruz, Calif. Raechel had rented a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser on Oct. 7, 2004 at Enterprise's Capitola location. The Houck sisters were traveling on Highway 101 near Bradley, heading north, when their rental car crossed the grass median, hit a southbound big rig and burst into flames.
Attorneys representing the Houck family argued that Raechel Houck lost steering control because of a power-steering fluid leak. Enterprise attorneys had argued that the crash was caused by Raechel's driving.
The previous month, Daimler Chrysler had sent out safety recall notices for 435,000 MY 2002-2005 PT Cruisers because the power steering hose could leak and pose a safety risk. Enterprise records showed that the PT Cruiser the Houck sisters were driving hadn't been repaired and had been rented out four times since the recall had been issued.