HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL – A Florida man is currently serving time in prison for killing his sister and injuring his mother after he drove a rental car recklessly and crashed into a tree.
That man is now suing Enterprise Rent-A-Car, citing negligence on the part of the company.
Here are the details behind this intriguing lawsuit.
Driver in fatal wreck sues Enterprise, says he was drunk when he rented the car in Tampa https://t.co/TZG3vx9MZZ
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) November 14, 2020
Back in 2013, Felix Luis C. Rodriguez was involved in a high-speed crash on Interstate 95 that killed his 25-year-old sister, Merarie A. Cuevas. His mother, Minerva Rodriguez, was also severely injured in the crash as well.
Rodriguez had reportedly crashed a Ford Edge SUV that he’d picked up from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car that was located at 5402 N Nebraska Ave. in Tampa, Florida while accompanied by his brother-in-law, Emmanuel Caminero.
According to the affidavit filed by Rodriguez’s brother-in-law Caminero, he admitted that he was having some difficulty getting a rental car due to his driver’s license being expired and there was an active warrant for his arrest at the time.
So Caminero enlisted the help of Rodriguez to assist with getting a rental car. Rodriguez claims to have been so intoxicated at the time that he could barely walk.
Apparently, Rodriguez didn’t have a valid driver’s license either at the time – so Rodriguez simply presented his younger brother’s driver’s license as his own when renting the SUV.
Only in Florida.
— Tony (@TommyTwoGuns88) November 14, 2020
From what the filed lawsuit says, the Enterprise employee at the time “knew or should have known that the Plaintiff’s intoxication alone made him an unfit driver and/or renting a vehicle to him was foolish or negligent.”
Yet, apparently the transaction went off without a hitch, and Rodriguez was driving the rental through Jacksonville, Florida on the I-95 hours after the rental commenced.
From what the Florida Highway Patrol notes of the fatal crash, Rodriguez was exceeding speeds of 100 MPH while on the interstate and tried to pass a Ford Mustang on the road.
When attempting to pass the vehicle, Rodriguez had to abruptly swerve out of the way to avoid colliding with another vehicle on the interstate. Upon doing so, Rodriguez lost control of the vehicle and went off of the road and crashed into a tree.
At the time of the crash, FHP records indicate that Rodriguez wasn’t above the threshold for legally defined alcohol intoxication during the March, 2013 incident.
However, Rodriguez was still convicted of vehicular homicide, reckless driving resulting in bodily injury and fraudulent use of personal identification.
"It was so irresponsible of you to rent a car to that drunk guy, me."
— tizzle dosizzle (@tdossin) November 14, 2020
He’s currently slated to be released from prison in 2028 for the convictions.
In the filed lawsuit, Rodriguez alleges that both Enterprise and the employee were negligent, noting that he didn’t recollect much of what happened at the Enterprise location until his brother-in-law informed him of a detailed account days after the crash.
Within a handwritten affidavit relating to the lawsuit, Rodriguez wrote:
“At the time of the rental I was heavily intoxicated and was not fit to legally drive.”
Prior to the lawsuit being filed, Rodriguez sent a letter to Enterprise seeking an out-of-court settlement for $25,000. In said letter sent in September, Rodriguez noted that if a settlement wasn’t entertained, then he would be seeking $3M in damages in court.
Enterprise has reportedly not commented on this recently filed civil suit.
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In other news related to recently filed lawsuits, a family in Mississippi is bringing forward a lawsuit after their daughter was forced to remove a face covering that said “Jesus Loves Me” while in school.
Here’s that previous report.
PINOLA, MS – A principal in Mississippi allegedly ordered a third grader to remove a mask she was wearing in school.
Not because there was some type of vulgar messaging on it or it was not a suitable mask for safety during COVID, but allegedly because the words, “Jesus Loves Me” was written on it.
Instead of just complaining to the school board, the girl’s parents decided to file a lawsuit.
Lydia Booth, a third grade student who loves Jesus, tells her story. pic.twitter.com/LZphIzPU7U
— Michael Friel (@MichaelFriel) November 7, 2020
The third grade girl, Lydia Booth, was in her class at Simpson Central Elementary School on October 13th when she was allegedly approached by the principal, Antoinette Woodall, and told to remove the mask allegedly because of what was written on it.
Lydia removed the mask, as ordered, and was given a replacement mask to wear.
Woodall alleged that the move to remove the mask was done because of School Board Policy. However, Lydia’s parents, Matthew and Jennifer Booth claim that the policy was not in place at the time Woodall made Lydia remove the mask.
Lydia Booth, a 3rd grader in Simpson County, Mississippi, was ordered to remove and replace her "Jesus Loves Me" mask. Students were told they couldn't wear anything political or is "offensive to the school environment.”. . Other kids were allowed to wear BLM masks with no issue pic.twitter.com/MlJDVinjpx
— Stonewall Jackson (@1776Stonewall) November 6, 2020
The School Board Superintendent, Gus Paes, sent out a letter that went to all students, parents and staff for the schools in the area. In it, he starts out telling everyone that the school board does not discriminate. Then, he writes:
“Masks cannot display political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment. This expectation was outlined in our restart plan and is specific to masks only.
“The principal and Superintendent will be the final authority on the appropriateness of any mask worn to school. Wearing school colors, the school mascot or simply having a blank mask is encouraged. We appreciate your understanding and compliance with these expectations.”
While this letter is dated on October 15th, two days after Lydia was forced to remove her mask by Woodall, it certainly gives the appearance that there was no policy in place banning religious statements from face masks.
And a check of their restart plan shows no mention of any bans for anything being listed on the mask, let alone religious messages.
Lydia Booth a 3rd Grade Student at Simpson Elementary School in Pinola, MS was Robbed of her 1st Amendment when the school would not allow her to wear a JESUS LOVES ME mask. I Guess it would be OK to wear a I LOVE SATAN mask. AMERICA has TURNED ITS BACK ON GOD
PATHETIC TIMES pic.twitter.com/aFTssvhhl6
— @Bamawear (@GregBates7) November 7, 2020
Jennifer alleges that the school’s handbook also has no mention of what was and was not allowed to be depicted on a face mask.
Jennifer said that the school board did not honor the words of the handbook, which also outlined the Mississippi Student Religious Freedom Act, but rather provided her with the School Board’s plan to combat COVID, which now had the ban listed.
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom group, this move, specific only to Lydia’s mask, is a violation of the First Amendment, which is why they are working with Lydia’s parents and filed a federal lawsuit on Lydia’s behalf. ADF attorney Michael Ross said:
“Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them. Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs.”
Tyson Langhofer, who is a senior counsel for ADF, added that Woodall’s and the school’s actions caused the 9-year-old to be upset. He said:
“She’s told her parents she wants to be a missionary and that’s why she wants to wear this mask. It made her really sad when she was forced to remove this mask because the message means something to her and it’s her choice to wear it.”
Langhofer alleges that Woodall and the School Board are “discriminating against individuals who want to wear masks expressing religious beliefs but are allowing students and faculty to wear masks expressing messages with other beliefs.”
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