Hertz Will Pay $168M to Drivers It Accused of Theft

Some customers spent months in jail
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2022 12:05 PM CST
Hertz Will Pay $168M to Drivers It Accused of Theft
Rental vehicles parked outside a closed Hertz car rental office in south Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

Hertz has agreed to pay $168 million to customers it falsely accused of stealing its rental cars, which led to arrests at gunpoint and jail time in some cases. The company said Monday that the settlement will cover 364 people, "more than 95%" of such claims, NPR reports. In one case, a Georgia man accused of stealing a vehicle that he had paid for and returned spent more than six months in jail after missing a hearing, reports the New York Times. According to a lawsuit filed in August, a Florida mother of two who had paid for an extension on her Hertz rental was arrested and spent 37 days in jail. While she was behind bars, she missed her nursing school graduation and found out she was pregnant.

The lawsuit said the false reports of thefts generally happened when Hertz falsely claimed a car was overdue—or misplaced one of its cars. "In all cases, Hertz’s goal is to protect its profits and cut its costs, even if it knows their own customers will lose their liberty and freedom as a result," the lawsuit said, per the Times. Innocent drivers were "prosecuted as if they truly committed Grand Theft Auto," it said. The lawsuit accused Hertz of failing to keep track of its vehicles and failing to update its system when rentals had been extended.

Hertz spokesperson Jonathan Stern tells CNN that company has taken "significant steps to modernize and update" policies that ensure "proper treatment" of customers. When he become CEO of Hertz in April, Stephen Scherr promised to make dealing with the claims a top priority. "As I have said since joining Hertz earlier this year, my intention is to lead a company that puts the customer first," he said in a statement Monday. "In resolving these claims, we are holding ourselves to that objective." (Hertz was sued last year by a man who said the company took years to hand over a receipt that cleared him of murder.)

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