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Jones v. Hertz Corp.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 8, 2014

Gerald Jones
v.
The Hertz Corporation and Citigroup Inc. d/b/a Citibank

Submitted: April 9, 2014

On Plaintiff Below/Appellant's Appeal from a Decision of the Court of Common Pleas.

Gerald Jones Plaintiff Below/Appellant, pro se

Stephen F. Dryden, Esquire Dryden LLC Attorney for Defendant Below/Appellee

Erika R. Caesar, Esquire Ballard Spahr LLP Attorney for Defendant Below/Appellee

RICHARD R. COOCH

Dear Mr. Jones, Mr. Dryden, and Ms. Caesar:

I. INTRODUCTION

Gerald Jones ("Appellant") has appealed a decision of the Court of Common Pleas granting the Motions to Dismiss of Appellees The Hertz Corporation ("Appellee Hertz") and Citigroup Inc. d/b/a Citibank ("Appellee Citigroup, " or collectively "Appellees"). This case requires this Court to decide whether to affirm the lower court's holding by determining whether Appellant violated the so-called "mirror image" rule, as set forth in Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 72.3(f), [1]when he filed his appeal to the Court of Common Pleas from an adverse decision in Justice of the Peace Court. Also at issue is whether the Court of Common Pleas erred when it did not sua sponte allow Appellant to amend his complaint to comply with said rule.

II. FACTS

This dispute arises from a vehicle rented in Washington D.C. on April 23, 2012.[2] Appellant claims he rented the vehicle for a single day for an authorized payment of $94.19, providing his Citibank card as security.[3] Appellant claims he returned the car the next day to a "combined public rental car lot" in Washington, D.C.[4] Appellees claim he never returned the car and it was reported stolen in June 2012.[5] Appellant was eventually charged $9, 138.51 in additional fees for the purportedly missing vehicle.[6] Appellee Hertz in February 2013 retained the services of Collateral Consultants LLC to help locate the vehicle.[7] The vehicle was eventually recovered at Appellant's house in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania almost a year later in February of 2013.[8] He contends that he regained possession of the vehicle shortly before it was recovered.[9]

III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Appellant filed suit against Appellees in Justice of the Peace Court on January 18, 2013 for the allegedly "fraudulent" charges, submitted by Appellee Hertz and processed by Appellee Citigroup.[10] Appellant asked for $13, 938 (accounting for the $9, 138.51 and assorted costs) and court costs.[11] Hertz filed a counterclaim in Justice of the Peace Court for $15, 000 in additional charges and fees.[12] A trial was held on April 25, 2013 and the Justice of the Peace Court held in a written decision that Appellant "failed to meet the burden of proof…[and] did not supply the Court with any credible evidence showing that he returned the vehicle on April 24, 2013 …[or] that Defendant Citibank acted improperly [in processing the Hertz charges]."[13] The Justice of the Peace Court also awarded Appellee Hertz its counterclaim for $15, 000 plus 5.75% post-judgment interest.[14]

Appellant appealed that decision to the Court of Common Pleas. Appellant requested $313, 978 in damages in a ninety-four paragraph complaint on appeal and listed seven counts against Appellees. They included:

1. "Breach of Fiduciary Responsibility" against Appellee Citigroup for processing the charges from ...

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