TORTS: WRONGFUL DEATH: MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE: RENTAL VEHICLES: RENTAL CAR COMPANY DID NOT HAVE A DUTY TO DISCOVER THAT RENTER HAD A SUSPENDED DRIVER’S LICENSE: DRIVING WITH SUSPENDED LICENSE WAS NOT PROXIMATE CAUSE OF ACCIDENT; CIVIL PROCEDURE: TRIAL COURT DID NOT ERR BY FAILING TO VACATE DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT BECAUSE PROPOSED THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT FAILED TO STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION

Rivers v. The Hertz Corporation, ___ So. 3d ___, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1653 (Fla. 3d DCA July 31, 2013)

The decedent was a passenger in a rented motor vehicle.  His personal representative brought a wrongful death action against the rental car company because the driver had a suspended license.  The trial court entered summary judgment for the rental car company because it complied with its duty under Section 322.38, Florida Statutes, to compare the signature on the driver’s license with the signature written in its presence, and the plaintiff “failed to allege any facts that [the rental car company] knew or should have known [the renter] was an unfit driver when he presented a facially valid driver’s license.  Absent any facts to demonstrate [the rental car company] had some knowledge of the deficient driver’s license, there can be no duty imposed upon [the rental car company] to investigate and discover [the renter’s] suspended driver’s license.”  Moreover, the failure to discover the suspended license was not the proximate cause of the injury “because the lack of [a] license did not make [the renter] unfit or incompetent to drive.  The accident would have occurred whether or not [the renter] had a valid license in his possession at the time of the rental.”  Finally, the trial court did not err by denying the plaintiff’s motion to vacate the dismissal with prejudice of her second amended complaint because her proposed third amended complaint did not state a cause of action either in that it failed to allege facts that would create a “duty to investigate and discover the suspended license.  ‘Denial of a request to amend an amended complaint is not error [if] the complaint will not state a cause of action even if it includes the proffered amendment.’”