Deep Pocket Files: Jason Lapp and Andrew Brzyski

Mary Brzyski worked for Skidmore Inc., in East Aurora, NY, where she drove a company car that was leased from Chrysler. In 2003, Brzyski loaned the car to her 19-year-old son, Andrew, who rear-ended Jason Lapp’s car, severely injuring him. Longtime readers know what happened next. Irrational New York law (Jul. 14, 2003, Apr. 2, 2004, Feb. 2, 2005) holds the lessor liable, even when, as here, they are three transactions away and never anticipated that a 19-year-old would be driving the car. Skidmore and Chrysler have settled for $8.2 million. (“$8.2 million settlement accepted in crash suit”, Buffalo News, Dec. 15). Congress has stepped in to the breach (Aug. 4, 2005), at least until the litigation lobby undoes that reform.

3 Comments

  • Well, that probably cancels out the value of a few tens of thousands in car leases.

    What’s the chance that they’ll stop leasing cars in New York State?

  • The article is skimpy on details. There may be facts which indicate that the driver of the vehicle was in the employ of the car owner.

    At least one New York trial court has declared the law unconstitutional (though in my opinion, the court’s analysis is dead wrong and likely to be reversed on appeal): Graham v. Dunkley, 2006 NY Slip Op 26358, 2006 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2375.

    I’m pretty sure an appellate court in Florida has upheld the federal statute and it has been upheld by several trial judges in the District of Columbia (without opinion).

  • “What’s the chance that they’ll stop leasing cars in New York State?”

    I think they (and almost everybody else) already have. The incident in question happened in 2003.