Shook Asks Georgia to Reject New Duty of Businesses to Prevent Third-Party Criminal Conduct

Shook attorneys Mark Behrens, Andrew Trask and Brittany Wilson filed amici briefs in two related Georgia Court of Appeals cases seeking to impose liability against a rental car company and one of its franchises. The cases arose when an employee of the rental car company stole a vehicle and crashed it into a wall, injuring two teenagers. Juries in both cases found that the corporate entities were responsible for failing to prevent theft of the vehicle and awarded damages to two teenagers injured when the stolen car crashed into a wall.

The amici brief argues that the car rental company and franchise owed no duty to prevent the criminal act of another. In addition, even if a duty was found to exist, the criminal act of a third party would cut off proximate causation. Shook asserts that if the court recognizes a new tort duty, it could expose state businesses to liability whenever someone steals a dangerous object from work and uses it to injure someone.

Shook filed the briefs on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

The cases are Avis Rent A Car Sys., Inc. v. Johnson, No. A19A0928 (Ga.) and Avis Rent A Car Sys., Inc. v. Smith, No. A19A1503 (Ga.).