8th Circuit Allows Claims Against Hertz for Falsely Reporting Car as Stolen to Proceed

Over the past few years, there have been numerous stories of rental car company Hertz reporting customers as having stolen rental cars, when the cars were not stolen at all. In 2022, the company entered in a class action settlement covering 364 of these reported “thefts.”

Today, the Eighth Circuit issued a decision in Wood v. Huber, another Hertz case.

From the opinion:

The Woods alleged that Michael Wood rented a vehicle from Overland, which operates a Hertz Rent A Car franchise. After the vehicle got stuck in a snowbank, Wood returned to the franchise and told Overland employees they would have to retrieve it. Wood subsequently tweeted about their poor customer service, and flew home. Overland did not retrieve the vehicle, and charged Wood’s debit card for an extended rental term; after it could no longer secure payment to continue extending the rental term, Kaelberer reported to police that Wood stole the vehicle.

While affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the customers’ breach of contract claim, it reversed as to their malicious prosecution and negligence-based claims, noting, among other things, the franchisee’s “testimony that he filed the police report to collect a debt, and testimony that Overland
employees were aware of Wood’s negative tweet and considered it harassing or threatening,” and that it only contacted the customer “by phone a single time prior to contacting police despite the fact that it had his address, e-mail address, and social media account.”

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