Judge Affirms Halcro Settlement; Avis to Appeal

Affirming a jury verdict that was rendered last October, a U.S. District judge ordered Avis Budget Car Rental LLC to pay Alaska Rent A Car $16 million in damages. The case involved a franchise operator who alleged Cendant Corp.’s 2002 acquisition of Budget Rent A Car violated his franchise agreements, according to Blue Mau Mau.

The franchise operator, Robert C. Halcro, alleged that the acquisition violated all three of his franchise agreements. Halcro started his car rental business in 1955 in Valdez, Alaska. Prior to the jury trial, the judge had issued a decision resolving most claims in Halcro’s favor. The judge stated that Cendant Rent A Car Group was unequivocally in breach of the agency settlement agreement.

John Dienelt of DLA Piper, an expert witness representing the Cendant and Avis defendants, asserted in trial that the franchisee’s expert witness testimony on damage calculations ignored any benefits to Alaska Rent-A-Car arising from the combined sales force of Avis and Budget.

But the judge disagreed with Dienelt’s position that Halcro’s expert witness testimony was insufficient. Regarding Avis’ motion for a new trial, the judge declared that the court had no basis to revisit its earlier ruling.

The judge will rule next on the parties’ applications for the award of costs and fees and prejudgment interest.

Dienelt said Avis Budget Car Rental will appeal the judgment.

Regarding the prejudgment interest awarded to the franchisee, Dienelt was not sure how it would be calculated. He said there are issues about whether New York law, Alaska law or federal law applies to pre- and post judgment interest. And the percentage rate differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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