A federal judge ruled this week that the city of Dayton breached its contracts with five rental car agencies operating at Dayton International Airport.
U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice awarded summary judgment to the companies that operate Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National and Alamo rental car companies, allowing them to continue using the first floor of the city’s three-year-old airport parking garage, rent-free.
Late last year, city of Dayton Aviation Director Terry Slaybaugh notified the rental car companies that their agreements would expire Dec. 31, and the city would initiate a new permit process, which would increase the companies’ fees and decrease the number of parking spaces available to them.
The rental car companies sued, claiming that past agreements city officials had signed, under previous Aviation Director Iftikhar Ahmad, created a 20-year, rent-free lease of first-floor space in the three-level parking garage, which was completed in 2010.
In Judge Rice’s decision, he said the city’s argument “hinges on its contention that the terms ‘expiration’ and ‘termination’ are synonymous, a faulty premise … . For the same reasons, the court must reject the city’s assertion that the twenty-year lease term described in the Ready/Return Agreement is only a ‘possibility.’ ”
Rice’s decision gives the rental car companies 17 more years of rent-free use of the garage. Those companies helped get the garage built, by charging their customers a facility fee that was then turned over to help pay for construction. Laura Bryant, spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings, said Enterprise, National and Alamo rental car will continue normal operations at the airport.
“We are pleased with the decision and believe the court got it exactly right — especially since we were standing up on behalf of car rental customers and consumers in Dayton,” Bryant said.
City of Dayton officials would not comment on the case, as is their standard practice with ongoing litigation.
The rental car companies continue to argue that Dayton should have to pay their attorneys’ fees, saying the city acted in bad faith. The city has already incurred more than $330,000 of its own legal bills in the case. A status call on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 6.