Lawyers are preparing to file 100 new claims over the next few weeks on behalf of Hertz customers who say they were victims of fraudulent arrest incidents.
Among the new cases are Brittany Morgan and Jeremy Benjamin, a couple who were arrested and arrested at gunpoint in Houston, Texas, after renting a Ford Mustang from Hertz at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
“We showed the police the paperwork and told them we obviously hadn’t stolen the car. We were stunned when the police told us that our car’s license plate was from another car which had been reported stolen and it wasn’t even the license plate on our rental documents,” the couple wrote in a legal statement. “We are furious that such a thing could happen and stunned to learn that Hertz has already rented ‘stolen’ cars to customers.”
Another new case is Michael Okoasia, a New York music video director who rented a 2019 Nissan Versa from Hertz at the LAX Marriott Hotel in California. Okoasia was on his way to work when he was pulled over in Hollywood and held at gunpoint by 10 officers as part of a felony arrest.
“Hertz had rented me the wrong car, then without any investigation reported that the car I was driving was stolen. I was eventually released and the car was towed, but not before a very public arrest in Hollywood “, he said in a legal statement. “I had to tell the production team that I had been arrested for possession of a stolen car.”
In addition to the traumatic experience, Okoasia said he lost around $20,000 due to the music video he was unable to shoot and other expenses such as airfare.
Hertz CEO plans to tackle false arrest issue, expects settlement with victims
To date, at least 230 cases have been filed against Hertz in a sweeping lawsuit in Delaware bankruptcy court seeking more than $750 million in damages. Additionally, congressional lawmakers demanded answers from Hertz and asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate inaccurate theft reports.
Some of the new cases will be filed as civil matters outside of bankruptcy proceedings, as the incidents occurred after Hertz emerged from bankruptcy.
Hertz, which files more than 3,000 police reports about its vehicles each year, says the vast majority of claims involve renters who were “many weeks or even months late returning vehicles and who have stopped communicate with us well beyond the scheduled due date”.
“Hertz cares deeply about its customers and we successfully provide rental vehicles to tens of millions of travelers each year,” the company told FOX Business in a statement. “Where our customers have been negatively affected, we are committed to doing what is right for our customers. At the same time, we will protect and defend against false claims intended to harm our business.”
Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr recently told analysts on the company’s first quarter earnings call that its policies and procedures are “designed to reduce the possibility of innocent customers being affected in the future.” and that the affected group is “a fraction of a percentage of the millions of rentals” processed each year.
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Francis Malofiy, the victims’ attorney who has spent years battling Hertz in court, told FOX Business that recent comments from Scherr and Hertz are “discordant” with what is really going on and “frustrating for many people.” who are still being arrested, imprisoned and prosecuted for false police reports.”
“There’s a huge world of difference between something that’s lost or misplaced or that you can’t find and something that’s stolen,” he said.
Malofiy says Hertz files the incorrect police reports for not processing payment for rental extensions after 62 days and the company does not do its due diligence to adequately investigate before reporting stolen cars.
Additionally, he claims the company backdates rental due dates, removes rental extensions, bills and collects full payment from customers without notifying police after incorrect theft reports are filed, and converts civil payment disputes. in criminal cases to avoid arbitration and obtain a “financier”. and benefit of litigation.”
“It puts profits ahead of human life and it’s a reckless disregard for someone else’s life,” he said.
According to Hertz, law enforcement is notified each time a reported stolen vehicle is recovered to remove it from the National Crime Information Center database. However, the Philadelphia Inquirer previously reported that Hertz “has no mechanism to withdraw a criminal reference because … it must maintain a relationship of ‘integrity and accountability’ with law enforcement.”
Malofiy says a starting point for Hertz to do right with customers is to quash incorrect police reports and hire more local business officials to conduct preliminary investigations to prevent future incidents of misuse. fraudulent arrests.
“I appreciate the CEO’s statements that they’re going to settle these claims, that they’re going to put this behind them, but the sincerity of the statement is measured by how he assesses the damages,” Malofiy adds. “Companies don’t learn from their mistakes unless they pay for them and Hertz has to pay for their mistakes.”