Jon Campisi Jan. 19, 2012, 9:28am

A western Pennsylvania man has filed a class action lawsuit against Enterprise Rent-A-Car, alleging the Missouri-based company is violating Pennsylvania law, and the laws of three other states, when it levies an additional charge on customers who accidentally damage rental vehicles.

Pittsburgh, Pa. resident Chad Shannon filed the lawsuit Jan. 17 on behalf of himself and others similarly situated.

The complaint, filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia lawyer Daniel C. Levin, West Chester, Pa. attorney Christopher G. Hayes and Pittsburgh lawyer Aaron Rihn, alleges that Enterprise is violating the laws of Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and California when it collects a “diminishment of value” charge to customers who, during their contract period with the company, unintentionally damage rental vehicles.

The suit states that Enterprise improperly charges customers for diminishment of value to the vehicle in addition to cost of actual repair when repair damages are above $500.

The complaint says that the defendant will charge customers the total repair cost plus 10 percent of damages.

In Shannon’s case, the plaintiff was billed $1,531.10 for repairs plus $153.11 for diminished value following a vehicle accident late last year.

The suit states that Shannon “did damage the vehicle” he rented from Enterprise on Oct. 21, 2011. He subsequently made the “double payments” to the company “under protest.”

“Indeed, under Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and California law, the proper measure of damages for a personal property claim is the lesser of costs of repair or diminished value of the vehicle,” the lawsuit states. “Clearly, Enterprise is not entitled under the relevant law to collect both charges when pursuing personal property damages.”

The lawsuit states that Enterprise is in violation of both the law and its own contract, the latter of which does not provide for the company to charge both cost of repair and diminished value for personal property damages.

“Rather, Defendant only states it may elect to charge those charges,” the suit states. “This leaves a consumer to believe that it may be charged for one or the other pursuant to the law. Further, Defendant’s contract states it will follow the law."

The lawsuit goes on to label the Enterprise rental agreements “procedurally unconscionable.”

“These are form contracts that are provided to all consumers on a take it or leave it basis,” the suit states. “No consumer has the ability to negotiate the terms of the contract, but are rather provided to them by Enterprise who is in a superior negotiating position because Enterprise drafted the contract and does not provide the parties the right to negotiate terms.”

The lawsuit contains counts of breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

The plaintiff seeks class action status, along with actual, general, special, incidental, punitive, statutory and consequential damages to which the lawsuit claims the plaintiffs are entitled.

Pre-and-post-judgment interest and attorney’s fees are also being sought.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00198-RB.

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