WEST PALM BEACH — A Florida appeals court recently upheld a lower court’s decision to find Hertz and a lessee of a rental car not liable in a traffic accident. 

According to a June 7 decision by Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal, the legal dispute stems from an automobile accident in which Nathanial Phillips, who was driving a rental car, allegedly collided with Clyde Stokes, who was driving a motorcycle. Phillips later fled the scene, according to court filings.

The rental car, however, was rented to Delana Wynn. 

Stokes filed suit, claiming that Hertz, Wynn and Phillips were liable for the injuries he sustained in the accident. He specifically argued that Wynn had granted Phillips “implied consent” to drive the vehicle because Phillips had alleged that he had grabbed the car keys from the kitchen counter.  

Wynn had a different story. 

She alleged that she never gave Phillips permission to drive the car, and that she had put the car keys in a "dresser in the locked room where she had been staying." 

Though Wynn and Phillips had different accounts of what happened, the lower court ruled against Stokes and assigned all liability to Phillips. 

Stokes appealed the decision.

The appeals court, however, upheld the lower court’s decision, ruling that Wynn did not give Phillips any indication that he could drive the rental. 

The appeals court said there was sufficient evidence that Phillips acted in "conversion or theft" of the car.

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