Privacy Law

Hertz can't hide number of police reports filed against customers, judge rules

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A bankruptcy judge in Delaware ruled last week that car rental company Hertz can’t seal information on the number of police reports that it filed against customers.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary F. Walrath said Hertz can’t redact the information from publicly filed documents, including information about the number of reports stemming from theft allegations after customers extended rentals, report Law360, Bloomberg, the Washington Post and CBS News.

Walrath ruled during a videoconference hearing Feb. 9, according to Law360.

Walrath ruled on behalf of 230 claimants who said they were wrongly arrested as a result of Hertz theft reports. The claimants said they should be compensated for false arrests and wrongful incarceration along with other creditors in Hertz’s Chapter 11 reorganization. Hertz emerged from bankruptcy last year.

CBS News had also sought the information.

Hertz had contended that the information could be used by rivals to harm Hertz’s reputation and to gain inside information about Hertz’s vehicle tracking system.

One lawyer for wrongly accused renters, Francis Alexander Malofiy, told the Washington Post that Hertz reports that a vehicle is missing when it can’t find it in a parking lot or on its rental system. Sometimes the problem arises after a renter changes cars or extends the rental period.

Malofiy told the Delaware News Journal in November that Hertz’s internal information on false arrests could show that the company had prior knowledge of a problem but failed to take action to avoid administrative costs.

Hertz said in a statement to CBS News most police reports involve renters who were weeks or months late in returning vehicles.

“Of the more than 25 million rental transactions by Hertz in the United States per year, 0.014% fall into the rare situation where vehicles are reported to the authorities after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer,” Hertz said in the statement.

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