The transportation funding bill approved by Congress last week contains a provision that removes car lessors and auto rental companies from vicarious liability, according to news reports. If President Bush signs the bill into law as anticipated, it seems likely to result in the resumption of writing car leases in New York by the financial units of General Motors, Ford Motor Co., the Chrysler Group and others. Those groups had pulled out of leasing in recent years for fear of being sued. Although a number of states make the owners of leased and rented cars liable in accidents, only New York's placed no limits on that liability. There were more than 220,000 leased vehicles in the state in 2002 but only about 96,000 last year, according to Steven Greenberg, a lobbyist for the groups that fought to eliminate the requirement. “What a pleasure it is that the Federal Government should be able to understand and deal with an issue we could not get the State of New York to recognize and understand or deal with in a fair way,” Elaine Litwer, legislative coordinator for the National Vehicle Leasing Association, told Business Fleet.
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