Hertz to pay $168 million to settle false arrest lawsuit

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Hertz said Monday it will pay $168 million to settle hundreds of claims from customers who were falsely reported by the rental company as having their vehicles stolen, with some innocent renters arrested and jailed for weeks or months over the reports .

Hertz said in a brief statement that it was paying 364 claims, accounting for 95 percent of the outstanding claims against the company for the false theft reports.

Dozens of customers had shared stories on social media and aired TV shows of being arrested, “beaten” or stopped at border crossings after Hertz falsely reported them to authorities for stealing vehicles from its rental fleet.

Hertz claims thousands of renters are stealing cars. Customers argue they were wrongly accused.

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

Drew Seaser, a real estate appraiser in Colorado, learned of a warrant for his arrest in Georgia when he and his family were stopped at the airport on their way to Mexico. Seaser told CBS News he has never been to Georgia or rented a car from Hertz. He was detained for more than 24 hours; The charges were dropped after his attorney provided prosecutors with an alibi.

Paul-Anthony Knight told Inside Edition he was arrested after Hertz falsely filed a theft report against him. “All guns pointed at me. I was thrown to the ground. I got arrested. And I was locked up for over a week,” he said. Another man, Julius Burnside, told the program that he had been sentenced to more than six months in prison for a flawed report.

It wasn’t immediately clear if 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 is suing Hertz in Delaware did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hertz said in February that “the vast majority of these cases involve renters who have been many weeks or even months overdue to return vehicles and who have stopped communicating with us well past the scheduled due date.”

But Hertz CEO Stephen M. Scherr was more apologetic, saying on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in April that “it’s not acceptable for Hertz to have a customer, a single customer, who’s somehow into something of involved in what happened.” He said the issue of false theft reports was “one of the first things” he’s dealt with since taking over the helm of the company in February. “Several hundred people” were affected by the reports, he said.

False reports were retracted when they were discovered, Scherr said, “but these people were caught in a moment” when the retraction of the reports was “not acknowledged” by law enforcement. The false reports are “unfortunate,” he said.

Marisa Iati contributed to this report.

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