Duty of Rental Car Companies to Check Driving Record of Renters

Does a rental car company have the duty to check the driving record of potential customers before renting them a car?  Does the fact that the records are available electronically have any impact on whether a duty exists?

The California Court of Appeals recently considered these issues and re-affirmed an earlier ruling  that   (a) a car rental agency is "not negligent for entrusting a car to a person lawfully qualified and apparently fit to rent and drive it”  and (b) "an agency has no duty to ask questions to investigate the driving record of the customer, and that the agency may rely on presentation of a valid driver‟s license as sufficient evidence of fitness to drive, absent a legislative declaration to the contrary."  

The court went on to conclude that despite changes in technology car rental agencies  "have no duty to conduct an electronic search of the driving records of their customers before entrusting a vehicle to them."  The court said that it was the responsibility of the legislature and not the courts to impose such a duty.

The decision is Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co.,  B215105 (Cal. Ct. App. 2nd Distict  Sept. 28, 2010).