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Hill v Agency Rent-A-Car and Wilson; (COA-UNP, 8/9/1996; RB #1868)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 176184;. Unpublished  
Judges Young, Holbrook, and Ernst; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to opinion alt   

General / Miscellaneous [§3135]

Motor Vehicle Code (Civil Liability of Owner) (MCL 257.401)  
Evidentiary Issues   

In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals reinstated an arbitration award in plaintiffs favor in an automobile negligence case where the parties stipulated that the arbitrators shall determine issues of tort liability and allowable damages under MCLA 500.3135. The circuit court vacated the arbitrators' award on the basis that defendant Agency Rent-A-Car was not liable under the owner liability provisions of MCLA 257.401 because there was no consensual use of the vehicle under an express provision in the rental agreement which prohibited the use of the vehicle by anyone under 21 years of age. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court committed error in finding no consent. The court stated that, "a car driven upon a public highway in this state gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that the car is being driven with the owner's consent... Contrary to defendant Agency Rent-A-Car's claim, the presumption of consent arises from the mere fact that the car was being driven on the highway, and it is the owner's burden to rebut that presumption." The court went on to say that the provision in the rental agreement was not sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption because, "when an owner willingly surrenders control of his vehicle to others, he consents to assumption of the risks attendant upon his surrender of control regardless of admonitions which would purport to delimit his consent"

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