Jennifer Capabianco Convinces Ninth Circuit That District Court Correctly Dismissed Plaintiffs' Complaint

In 2006, two Mexican nationals rented a car in San Diego, which they intended on using for a surfing trip from San Diego down into Mexico. While crossing the border into Mexico, border officials arrested the Mexican nationals for the purported crime of illegal importation of a vehicle. The border officials held the Mexican nationals and demanded an immediate $9,000 fine for release.

The Mexican nationals sued the rental car company in federal court for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unfair business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200. Factually, plaintiffs claimed that the rental car company failed to tell plaintiffs that they would be arrested when crossing the border, and that the rental car company rented a car that was "useless" because the car could not be used as intended by plaintiffs to cross the border into Mexico. Lastly, plaintiffs asserted that the Mexican insurance policy it purchased was inadequate because it did not provide Mexican nationals with a paid defense to the criminal action.

Plaintiffs appealed the District Court order dismissing the complaint and entry of judgment in favor of defendants. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that it was illegal under Mexican law for a Mexican national to drive an American rental car across the border. Furthermore, the appellate court found that the rental car company was not negligent and made no misrepresentations.


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