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Enterprise Admits Guilt In Houck Deaths

By Misty Volaski Enterprise Statement 6/23/2010

After more than five years of “delays and futile mediations,” experts and depositions, lawyers and paperwork, it’s finally over —- Cally and Chuck Houck have won retribution for the deaths of their two daughters, Nordhoff grads Jackie and Raechel Houck.
Last week, an Alameda County, Calif., jury awarded the Houcks $15 million for the wrongful and unreasonable deaths of their two girls, who died in a fiery head-on traffic collision with an 18-wheeler on the 101-north near King City on Oct. 7, 2004.
The defendant, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, claimed the deaths were a result of Raechel’s bad or negligent driving, but mom Cally knew her daughter better than that. “I knew in my heart, always, that Raechel was a very good driver,” Houck said. “Having lived in Europe for two years, she spent a lot of time driving the roads of rural Italy. She was very cautious and would never have taken any chances.”
Turns out, Cally’s gut feeling was spot-on. The Capitola, Calif., Enterprise branch which rented the girls a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser had been informed a month before that the vehicle had a safety recall, but did nothing about it. The repair that would have saved the lives of the Houck girls — the replacement of a power steering hose that could leak and ignite on the catalytic converter, causing a fire under the hood — was never made.
Houck lawyer Larry Grassini, of Grassini and Wrinkle law firm, said that the branch had actually rented that same vehicle out four times before they gave the keys to Raechel. According to a Grassini and Wrinkle press release, “Both of the managers-in-training who rented the PT Cruiser to the Houck sisters provided statements to the parents’ lawyers saying that Enterprise intentionally overbooked vehicles ‘to get customers in the front door’ and knowingly rented out vehicles in need of service and maintenance. The recalled PT Cruiser rented to Raechel Houck was the last car on the lot and was represented to her as a ‘free upgrade.’”
A few hours later, the girls were dead.
“Our experts and our attorneys,” Cally Houck said, “remained steadfast and showed the conclusive proof that the car’s defect — power steering fluid leaking onto the catalytic converter which caused an under-hood fire — started the fire, and impaired the steering, causing the car carrying my girls to crash head-on into an 18-wheeler and explode into a ball of flames.”
Enterprise fought the allegations for five and one-half years with several major law firms, only admitting liability May 25. They had previously offered a settlement of $3 million in exchange for the family keeping the matter confidential, but the family refused.
“This case should be about consequences,” said Cally. “When a billion dollar corporation puts profit before life, then engages in a war of attrition to wear the family down, hoping we die, or our attorneys

After more than five years of “delays and futile mediations,” experts and depositions, lawyers and paperwork, it’s finally over —- Cally and Chuck Houck have won retribution for the deaths of their two daughters, Nordhoff grads Jackie and Raechel Houck. Last week, an Alameda County, Calif. jury awarded the Houcks $15 million for the wrongful and unreasonable deaths of their two girls, who died in a fiery head-on traffic collision with an 18-wheeler on the 101-north near King City on Oct. 7, 2004. The defendant, Enterprise Rent-a-Car,

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