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Union County U-Driv-It v. Blomeley

Decided: May 20, 1957.

UNION COUNTY U-DRIV-IT, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RALPH BLOMELEY, DEFENDANT



Hughes, J.s.c.

Hughes

Counsel have submitted this case to the court for its decision upon the merits based upon the factual record comprising the pleadings and evidence elicited by discovery, and upon briefs. The uncomplicated factual situation is this:

Plaintiff is in the business of renting out motor vehicles which, during the rental period, are in the possession, custody, control and use of the "renter" and it was under a contract describing this relationship that it rented a van to defendants on November 25, 1955. While being operated by the "renter" it was involved in an accident in Stonington, Connecticut, left the road and sustained extensive damage. Thereafter, the "renter" was charged with reckless driving in violation of the applicable motor vehicle statute of that state, pleaded "not guilty," and was convicted before a local justice of the peace in Connecticut and fined.

The suit presently brought is to recover from the "renter" the value of the damage to the vehicle. In the "standard Rental Agreement" prepared by the plaintiff and signed by the "renter," the latter is obligated to return the vehicle to the owner from which it was rented in good condition, except for ordinary wear and tear, by this clause of the agreement:

"(2) Renter agrees that he will return said vehicle to Owner's station from which it was rented, in the same condition as he received it, ordinary wear and tear excepted, on the return date stated above or sooner upon demand of Owner."

Under such agreement, the nature of the use of the vehicle is also limited by the following clause:

"(3) Renter agrees not to use said vehicle for the transportation of persons or property for hire, express or implied; not to use it in violation of any Federal, State, Provincial, or Municipal law, ordinance,

rule or regulation governing the use or return thereof; not to remove it from this state without the written consent thereto of Owner."

No point is made as to the locale of this accident, inasmuch as the removal of the vehicle from the State was apparently with the written consent of the owner, since the agreement specifies that the destination and place of the use is in a foreign state, requiring the traversing of the State of Connecticut.

The agreement further binds the "renter" to the following commitment:

"(6) Renter expressly agrees to pay to Owner on demand:

(c) A sum equal to the cost of all damages to said vehicle during this rental period, provided, however, that renter's liability shall be limited to $100.00 unless vehicle was operated in violation ...


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