Hertz to pay $168 million to settle lawsuits over false arrests

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Hertz said Monday it will pay $168 million to settle hundreds of claims by customers who were falsely reported by the rental car company as having stolen their cars, reportedly some innocent. Tenants were arrested and imprisoned for weeks or months.

Hartz said in a brief statement that it is settling 364 claims, which make up 95 percent of the outstanding claims against the company for false theft reports.

Dozens of customers have shared stories on social media and aired TV shows of being arrested, “swatted” or stopped at the border after Hertz told authorities the cars were stolen from their rental fleet. reported incorrectly.

Hertz claims thousands of rental cars are stolen. The clients argue that they were wrongly accused.

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In many cases, the customer paid for the car weeks or months in advance and paid it back in full – or never rented the car at all.

Drew Caesar, a real estate appraiser in Colorado, learned of a warrant for his arrest in Georgia when he was stopped at an airport on his way to Mexico with his family. Caesar told CBS News that he had never been to Georgia and never rented a car from Hertz. He was sentenced to prison for more than 24 hours. The charges were dismissed after his lawyer provided prosecutors with an alibi.

Paul Anthony Knight said in “Indication Edition” that he was arrested after Hartz falsely filed a theft report against him. “All the guns were pointed at me. I was thrown to the ground. I was arrested. And I was locked up for a week,” he said. Another man, Julius Burnside, told the program that he was jailed for more than six months for the false report.

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It was not immediately clear whether Caesars, Knight and Burnside were among the claimants who settled with Hertz, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2021. A lawyer for dozens of customers suing Hertz in Delaware did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hertz said in February that “the majority of these cases involved renters who had been returning vehicles for several weeks or even months and who stopped contacting us beyond the due date.”

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But Hertz CEO Stephen M. Sher was very apologetic, saying on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in April that “It’s unacceptable for Hertz to have any customer, a single customer caught in what That has happened.” He said the issue of fake theft reports was “among the first things” he dealt with since taking over the company in February. “Several hundred people” were reportedly affected by the reports, he said.

False reports were retracted when they were discovered, Shearer said, “yet these people were caught, you know, in a moment” when the deletion of reports was “not recognized” by law enforcement. He said the false reports were “unfortunate”.

Marissa Ethy contributed to this report.

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