Louisiana Record

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Woman amends lawsuit against Hertz to include defendants' full names, has case remanded to state court

Lawsuits

By Charmaine Little | Nov 22, 2019

Car accident 06

A woman amended her lawsuit against rental company Hertz and two of its employees when she learned those two employees' full names and persuaded a federal court judge to remand the case back to the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, granted the woman's motion for leave to file first supplemental and amending complaint, and her motion to remand in an Oct. 28 ruling.

Quinisha B. Lawrence sued Hertz after an alleged false arrest. Lawrence said the defendants filed a false police report claiming a car she was renting was stolen. Officer Stephen Kriebel of the New Orleans Police Department called Lawrence, who told him that she made all necessary payments via her contract. 

The officer instructed her to call “Aaron” at Hertz. When she did, “Aaron X” told her that the payment was made, and he didn’t know why the officer called her, the lawsuit said. He said he’d reach out to corporate to get the matter resolved. She believed he was the manager of the location and thought the situation settled, the lawsuit said. Instead, Lawrence was arrested two weeks later after a police report was filed by Aaron X and, Lawrence learned during discovery later, Marlon Vance, an employee at Hertz, the lawsuit said.

Lawrence filed suit in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans against Hertz and "Aaron X," but Hertz argued that, as the company is based in Delaware and Florida, the suit should be remanded to a federal court. It was.

Later, after Hertz furnished a list of employees at the location in question, Lawrence filed her motion to amend her suit to name the two individual defendants, Aaron Deselle and Vance, both of whom are residents of Louisiana. She attached a motion to remand the case back to the civil court.

Morgan granted Lawrence leave to amend her complaint. Lawrence said she believes Deselle is the manager at the location in question. She also said she spoke to him the day police came looking for her, and he told her he didn’t know why authorities were involved. Lawrence also wanted to include Vance as another defendant. She alleged that Vance filed a police report, claiming the car was stolen.

Hertz said Lawrence shouldn’t be allowed “to add new theories of recovery after removal to defeat diversity jurisdiction,” but Morgan disagreed. She said Lawrence’s allegations that Deselle is personally liable to Lawrence, and her new accusations against Desselle and Vance back her infliction of emotional distress claims, which were included in her first complaint.

Morgan also ruled that it wasn’t Lawrence’s responsibility to know Desselle’s identity before filing her state court lawsuit. Lawrence pointed out in her first complaint that she only got his first name when she called Hertz about the police report.

Morgan lastly ruled that Desselle and Vance weren’t improperly joined to the suit. Lawrence goes beyond speculation against Desselle and Vance to detail how Desselle allegedly lied to her and told her he didn’t know why police were involved, recognized that she was caught up on her payments, and falsely told her that “everything was being taken care of,” according to the opinion.

Instead, Desselle went to her house to seize the car, Morgan said.

As for Vance, Lawrence said he could have kept charging her credit card for any related charges, but instead insisting on “humiliating, embarrassing, shame, disgrace, and demean” her by filing a false police report, leading to her arrest, according to the lawsuit.

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