A man who spent nearly five years in prison for a crime he did not commit is suing Hertz for allegedly refusing to furnish the receipt that would have proven his innocence.
Herbert Alford, of Detroit, is suing Hertz Corporation for ignoring multiple subpoenas and court orders. A receipt from the day Alford rented a car from the company would have corroborated his alibi and proven he did not commit murder in October 2011.
"While money can sometimes make things right, not even billions of dollars could be a fair trade for five years of our lives, or for our good name," Jamie White, Alford's attorney, said in a statement, Lansing State Journal reported. "Hertz Corporation has a fully staffed legal department, so there is absolutely no reason for the company to completely ignore subpoenas and court orders for years while an innocent man languished in prison."
The lawsuit alleges that Hertz ignored two subpoenas and three court orders for a receipt from the day that Alford rented a car. The receipt would have proven that Alford used his credit card at the Hertz location at Lansing Airport at exactly 3 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2011. The investigated murder happened at 2:54 p.m. that day — but the airport is located at least a 15-minute drive away from the location of the murder.
Alford was convicted of murder in 2016 and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. Two years later, Hertz released the records and the conviction was overturned. But Alford was not released from prison until Dec. 2020.
"Had the Defendants not ignored and disobeyed numerous court orders requiring them to produce the documentation that eventually freed Mr. Alford, he would not have spent over 1,700 days incarcerated," the lawsuit says.
In early 2018, a legal assistant at Hertz said the documents could not be found and that they were likely purged from records because of their age. But that was not true. Later that year, the company finally produced the records after Alford's attorneys demanded a representative from the company appear at a hearing.
Alford is now seeking monetary compensation for the $100,000 he spent on legal representation and the almost five years he spent behind bars.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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