(NewsNation) — Hertz is offering settlements to dozens of customers who are suing the rental car giant after they claimed they were wrongly arrested and accused of stealing cars they rented, NewsNation’s Rich McHugh confirmed.
NewsNation previously reported on the nightmare situations that led customers to sue Hertz last year.
More than 200 customers were suing the rental car giant for mental and emotional damages after they say they were falsely arrested, and even jailed, after Hertz filed police reports saying the cars they rented were stolen. A judge ruled earlier this month that at least 89 of those cases could be pursued in state courts across the country, according to McHugh.
The customers say the cars were legitimately rented and many have had the charges removed, but not before spending time in jail in some cases, including Julius Burnside.
Burnside is part of one of the lawsuits against Hertz.
“I felt it was a joke..like you you’re telling me I got a warrant for my arrest for something I paid for. That’s not possible,” Burnside told NewsNation last year.
According to the lawsuit, Burnside was released from jail but then missed a court date, which resulted in his re-arrest and detention.
“Several months later, I was forced to sign a plea deal to get out of jail,” Burnside said.
Eventually, a Georgia court ruled that Burnside had in fact paid for his rental and dismissed the case entirely.
“Everything was dismissed, overturned. I cry. I cry now,” Burnside said.
The settlement push comes after Colleen Batcheler took over as general counsel for the embattled company. Batcheler said it was her top priority to end the lawsuits, according to an interview with Bloomberg. McHugh said the settlement was not surprising to him but how long it took was shocking.
“It’s just surprising to me that that it’s taken this long. As you know, we’ve been reporting on this since over a year and we know it’s been happening for years and years before that. So the fact that we’re finally now after story after story that we’ve done, just getting to this is a little bit surprising,” McHugh said on “Morning in America.” “The CEO was out in April, saying he wants to do right by customers that were caught up in this. But I think what happened here is that Hertz lost lost in bankruptcy court and letting all these cases go to individual state courts. And it seems that if if those cases were allowed to progress to state courts, this could get very costly for Hertz.”
Stephen Scherr, who took over as CEO on Feb. 28, said in April that the company has changed its practices to fix problems that have occurred when cars were reported stolen but the transaction was improperly recorded in Hertz’s system.
Scherr promised to “do right” by customers who have been treated unfairly in an interview with Bloomberg TV in April, and admitted publicly for the first time that some were wrongly arrested.