Chrysler to Stop Leasing Autos in R.I. if Liability Law Lapses

June 27, 2005

Chrysler Financial, a business unit of DaimlerChrysler Services North America LLC, will cease leasing cars in Rhode Island beginning August 1, 2005, if the current vicarious liability legislation passed by the state legislature two years ago lapses without being renewed by June 30, 2005.

If the current law lapses, Rhode Island will be left with an unlimited vicarious liability law that holds the “owner” of a motor vehicle responsible for personal injury and property damage caused by the driver of a leased vehicle, regardless of any fault or responsibility of the leasing company. With leasing, the finance company holds the title to the vehicle and therefore has significant exposure under the unlimited vicarious liability statutes.

“Chrysler Financial strongly supports the industry effort to renew the vicarious liability legislation that is two years old,” said William F. Jones Jr., vice president of Chrysler Financial. “If the current legislation is allowed to expire, Chrysler Financial will be forced to exit the Rhode Island leasing market based on significant financial exposure if we continue to offer leasing.”

In 2004, Chrysler Financial ceased leasing in the state of New York due to the state’s unlimited vicarious liability law.

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