Hertz Hits Back at Accenture, Accusing Firm of ‘Extortionate Conduct’ in Contract Dispute

Accusation follows news of motion to dismiss

The Hertz logo and the Accenture logo are positioned side by side.
The law firm representing Hertz claimed Accenture's arguments do not 'have any merit.' Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

The legal counsel for Hertz delivered a stinging rebuke to Accenture in a New York court last week.

After the consultancy filed a letter alerting Judge William H. Pauley III that it would move to dismiss the rental company’s April breach-of-contract suit, Brown Rudnick, the law firm representing Hertz, submitted its own document on May 23 stating that Accenture’s arguments do not “have any merit.”

In the letter, Hertz rejects “Accenture’s characterization of the facts” that the firm had completed all responsibilities required by the statement of work agreements following delays in the launch of Hertz’s new website and mobile app. Citing earlier precedents, the letter states that “the Court is required to accept as true the allegations in Hertz’s Complaint,” describing the firm’s own take as both inaccurate and “irrelevant at this point.”

"Hertz does not merely claim that Accenture breached its agreement with Hertz; it specifically alleges that Accenture engaged in unfair, deceptive, and extortionate conduct."
Brown Rudnick, Hertz's law firm

The letter also disputes Accenture’s claim that “a party’s alleged failure to fulfill its contractual obligations” does not qualify as deceptive behavior under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. “Hertz does not merely claim that Accenture breached its agreement with Hertz; it specifically alleges that Accenture engaged in unfair, deceptive, and extortionate conduct in connection with those breaches,” the letter reads.

Accenture declined to comment beyond a May 20 statement confirming it would move to dismiss the case. Hertz and Brown Rudnick have not responded to requests for comment.

Much of the earlier letter from Accenture’s law firm, Wiggin & Dana, argued that Hertz’s suit was rendered invalid by provisions in the statement of work agreements signed as the web design project was significantly delayed. Hertz’s representation calls these assertions premature because its client “has not yet enumerated the specific categories of its damages or had the opportunity to present evidence about Accenture’s wrongdoing.”

Hertz’s letter goes on to state that Accenture’s alleged violations go well beyond a failure to fulfill the contracts, claiming Accenture “acted deceptively” when it agreed to create both a responsive website and an app with small, medium and large breakpoints for phones, laptops and tablets, then failed to provide the medium breakpoint and “unfairly demanded to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional fees.”

According to the letter, the initial contract also called for the creation of a dynamic Visual Style Guide, with Accenture again demanding more money to complete the work after delivering a “static guide.”

Hertz says in the letter that Accenture’s failure to deliver the promised products amounts to a breach of contract, that its subsequent insistence on fees “in excess of what the parties had agreed” constitutes the aforementioned extortionate behavior and that the court’s ability to determine whether the conduct falls under that classification “is not appropriately resolved on a motion to dismiss.”

The letter then says the company “does not yet know” the totality of its own damages beyond the $32 million in fees paid to Accenture for “work that … had no value,” stating that the two parties’ contractual agreement explicitly allows Hertz to recover that money. It goes on to claim that any exculpatory clauses are unenforceable if Accenture engaged in “intentional wrongdoing.” Finally, it rejects the argument that the first “change request,” or update to the initial contract that prevented either party from bringing suit over delays in the project, can serve as a basis for Accenture’s motion to dismiss, because Hertz’s complaint did not refer to that request.

Earlier this week, the judge granted Accenture’s request for a pretrial, premotion conference, with the two parties agreeing to meet on June 3.

The full letter is below.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.