Hertz to pay $168 million to settle false arrest lawsuits

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Hertz said Monday it would pay $168 million to settle hundreds of claims from customers who were falsely reported by the rental car company to have stolen its vehicles, with innocent renters arrested and jailed for weeks or years. months over the reports.

Hertz said in a brief statement that it was settling 364 claims, which it said represented 95% of outstanding claims against the company over false theft reports.

Dozens of customers had shared stories on social media and aired TV programs about being pulled over, run over or stopped at border crossings after Hertz falsely reported them to authorities for stealing vehicles from its fleet rent.

Hertz says thousands of renters steal cars. Clients claim they were falsely accused.

In many cases, the customer had paid for and returned the car correctly weeks or months before – or had never rented a car at all.

Drew Seaser, a Colorado real estate appraiser, learned of a warrant for his arrest in Georgia when he was arrested at the airport on his way to Mexico with his family. Seaser told CBS News he had never been to Georgia or rented a car from Hertz. He was imprisoned for over 24 hours; the charges were dismissed after his lawyer provided an alibi to prosecutors.

Paul-Anthony Knight said on “Inside Edition” that he was arrested after Hertz improperly filed a theft complaint against him. “All guns pointed at me. I was knocked down. I was arrested. And I was locked up for over a week,” he said. Another man, Julius Burnside, told the program he had been jailed for more than six months for a faulty report.

It was not immediately clear whether Seaser, Knight and Burnside were among the plaintiffs who settled with Hertz, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2021. An attorney for dozens of customers who sued Hertz in Delaware did not immediately responded to a request for comment.

Hertz said in February that “the vast majority of these cases involve renters who had several weeks or even months of overdue vehicle returns and stopped communicating with us well past their scheduled due date. “.

But Hertz chief executive Stephen M. Scherr made more apologies, saying on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in April that “it’s not acceptable for Hertz to have one customer, one customer in any way. sort of caught up in some of what happened”. He said the issue of false theft reports was “one of the first things” he has dealt with since taking over the company in February. “Several hundred people” were impacted by the information, he said.

Erroneous reports were taken down when they were discovered, Scherr said, “yet these people got caught, you know, at a time” when the reports were “unacknowledged” by forces. of the order. The misinformation was “unfortunate”, he said.

Marisa Iati contributed to this report.

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