In a New York court last week, the legal counsel to Hertz delivered a stinging rebuke to Accenture, the rental company’s former consultant.
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.”
Hertz rejects “Accenture’s characterization of the facts,” which asserted that the firm had completed all responsibilities required by the statement of work agreements following delays in the launch of its client’s new website and mobile app. Citing earlier precedents, the new 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,” it reads.
Much of the earlier letter from Accenture’s law firm, Wiggin & Dana, argued that Hertz’s suit was rendered invalid by provisions contained in the statement of work agreements signed as the web design project was experiencing significant delays. The firm 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.”
The letter goes on to state that Accenture’s alleged violations go well beyond a failure to fulfill the contracts in question, claiming that the firm “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 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 even refer to that request.
Accenture declined to comment beyond the statement issued on May 20 confirming that it would move to dismiss the case. Hertz and Brown Rudnick have not responded to requests for comment.
Earlier this week, the judge granted Accenture’s request for a pre-trial, pre-motion conference, with the two parties agreeing to meet on Monday, Jun. 3.
The full letter is below.