A Nevada federal judge has ordered Hertz to pay $53.4 million to the remaining class members in a long-running lawsuit that accused the company of concealing that it was passing along the cost of doing business at airports to its customers. U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks ruled that the car rental company would have to pay the class’ requested $42.3 million in damages along with $11.1 million in interest.
Hertz had urged the judge to rule that the class – folks who rented cars from the company at Nevada airports between 2003 and 2009 – deserved nothing. But instead, Judge Hicks found that the amount requested by the class accurately reflected what members paid as an extra fee after they had been quoted a price without it. Judge Hicks wrote in the ruling:
The court finds that plaintiffs’ requested damages are accurate and have been appropriately reduced based on the 416 class members who have opted out.
It was alleged that car rental companies in the Reno and Las Vegas airports must pay a portion of gross revenues to the airport for the pleasure of offering services there. The companies pass the fees to customers, labeled as surcharges in the agreement to rent cars, according to the suit. But Hertz would quote a price to customers then itemize the concession fee separately on the rental agreement.
This was a move that Judge Hicks found was against a Nevada law that requires car companies to advertise a rate that includes all the fees. Judge Hicks also refused to revert any unused money from the class award to Hertz. Instead, he will allow the parties to petition the court to establish a fund to hold the money after each class member has been paid.