Tampa, FL – An inmate serving time in federal prison for vehicular homicide has filed a lawsuit against a Tampa rental car agency alleging their rental agent should have known he was too drunk to drive when they rented to him.
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred in March of 2013 when Felix Luis C. Rodriguez’s brother-in-law, Emmanuel Caminero, was having problems with his own vehicle, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Caminero couldn’t get a rental car because his license was expired and he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, according to an affidavit the brother-in-law made for the lawsuit.
He said Rodriguez was so drunk that he could barely walk but he volunteered to get a rental car for Caminero, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
But Rodriguez didn’t have a valid license either, so he took his little brother’s ID and used that to complete the rental transaction instead, according to the lawsuit.
Rodriguez and Caminero went to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in the 5400-block of North Nebraska Avenue in Tampa together and rented a late-model Ford Edge SUV, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The lawsuit claimed that the management trainee at Enterprise who filled out the rental agreement with Rodriguez “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.”
But the men claimed they had no problems or delays in obtaining a rental vehicle, the lawsuit alleged.
Several hours after Rodriguez rented the SUV, he was across the state in Jacksonville driving at speeds of more than 100 mph Interstate 95, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
His mother and sister were in the rented vehicle with him.
Rodriguez was speeding down the interstate at about 11 p.m. when he flashed his lights at a Ford Mustang to tell it to get out of the way and then tried to pass it, according to the crash report by the Florida Highway Patrol.
The report said he swerved to avoid another vehicle while going more than 100 mph and lost control of the SUV, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The rental SUV ran off the road and slammed into a tree, killing Rodriguez’s 25-year-old sister and leaving his mother with serious lifelong injuries.
Initial testing of the driver’s blood for alcohol after the crash showed Rodriguez was below the legal limit, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
He was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, reckless driving resulting in bodily injury, and fraudulent use of personal identification.
Rodriguez, now 47, has been serving a sentence for vehicular homicide at the Hartford Correctional Center in Connecticut, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
He is currently slated for release in 2028.
But the lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County against Enterprise blamed the entire incident on irresponsible an irresponsible rental car agency that let him rent a car, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Rodriguez sent a letter from prison to Enterprise in September that offered the company a chance to settle with him for $25,000.
The letter warned that if Enterprise didn’t settle with him, he would file a lawsuit against them seeking more than $3 million in damages, the Tampa Bay Times reported.