Nessel sues car rental company for failing to comply with settlement
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing a car rental company for continued violations of the state Consumer Protection Act roughly a week after the company accused Nessel’s former campaign consultant of extortion.
In a Friday statement, Nessel said Executive Car Rental breached its settlement with the department by failing to implement a pre-rental inspection procedure and continuing to charge and withhold deposits from customers.
Nessel had notified the company of intended action in January based on complaints from customers who said they were not being returned their $250 damage deposits. The company reached a $40,000 settlement with the department in March and promised to reimburse customers, stop charging rental deposits and implement an inspection process for rentals.
“Despite ECR’s agreement to change its practices, the company continues to use the same deceptive and illegal tactics that got it into trouble initially,” Nessel said.
The department filed a lawsuit Friday seeking an injunction and damages.
“Today, we are seeking to put an end to these practices and ensure no consumer is taken advantage of by this company again,” Nessel said.
The amount in dispute that seems to have prompted Friday's lawsuit is minimal, said Steven Haney, a lawyer representing Executive Car Rental. The company has made at least 10 attempts to meet in person with the Attorney General's office over the last few months and has been denied each time, he said.
Haney said he and his client were not surprised by Friday's lawsuit, given the extortion claim the company filed last week in court.
"This is exactly what we expected in retaliation for last week’s story," Haney said. "If this is the route they chose, then fine. We’ll see them in court.”
The lawsuit comes a little more than week after Executive Car Rental filed a federal lawsuit against Nessel’s former campaign consultant Dmitry Movsesyan, alleging Movsesyan used his relationship with Nessel to extort the company.
In the federal lawsuit, Executive Car Rental owner Maner Waad claimed Movsesyan cited his relationship with Nessel while offering to assist the company in the ongoing dispute. Waad also accused Movsesyan of emailing the Attorney General’s office without authorization and demanding a $9,500 payment for his information technology services.
Waad said Movsesyan commandeered the company’s Google business pages and bragged about his connection to an “underworld network” of Ukranian computer hackers who he claimed had manipulated email accounts during the 2018 election to benefit Nessel.
Movsesyan has denied Waad’s claims.
Nessel’s office said the attorney general has not seen Movsesyan since her election to the office or communicated with him about any matter the department is handling. Further, Nessel’s spokeswoman said his claims of campaign email manipulation were crap and expressed concerns about his alleged extortion.
On Friday, Nessel’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said the federal lawsuit in no way prevents the department from pursuing court action against Executive Car Rental.
“They’re being sued because they refused to adhere to the agreements they made,” Rossman-McKinney said. “We’re not going to sit back and not take action on behalf of consumers because someone filed a gratuitous baseless lawsuit.”