U-Haul Has History Of Losing Key Evidence When Sued

Central pieces of evidence have gone go missing when U-Haul gets sued, LAT reports in the 3rd part of its investigation into the do-it-yourself moving company. In 11 out of 10,000 lawsuits filed against the company since 1998, items such as faulty tires and rims at the core of the cases have vanished before or during trial.

The company says it’s accidental, while annoyed judges have thrown out U-Haul’s defense in some of these cases.

We wonder if it’s less malice and more incompetence, demonstrating the inability of U-Haul corporate to influence what happens at the ground-level in their stores, with employees just grabbing whatever spare parts are around to fix trucks, even if they have giant EVIDENCE – DO NOT TOUCH tags.

Key trial evidence goes missing [LAT] (Thanks to frinklemur!)
(Photo: Al Seib)

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  1. B says:

    11 out of 10,000 isn’t exactly a high percentage. I wonder how it compares to evidence lost by the police.

  2. bvita says:

    Doesn’t surprise me. Several years ago when we were renting a couple of trucks a month, I would do whatever I could to avoid U-Haul. Their trucks were in the worst shape of the “big 3″ (U-Haul, Ryder (now Budget) and Penske), frequently had breakdowns and were constantly overbooked (as in you show up with a reservation and no truck).

    BTW, be aware that unlike rental cars, in most cases your personal auto insurance WILL NOT follow you into a rental truck. You really do need their insurance. We solved the problem by adding a rider to our commercial liability policy to cover the tracks (annual fee a LOT cheaper than the daily fee they charge).

  3. eldanny says:

    11/10000 between 1998 and 2007= That sounds like this just may be an accident after all.

  4. eldanny says:

    = Less than 0.2%

  5. Bay State Darren says:

    I think what’s more interesting in those numbers is the fact they’ve been sued 10,000 times since 1998. That’s three new lawsuits a day! Granted they are a big company, so one would expect a lot of hands in their pockets, but that sounds really high to me.

  6. ShadowFalls says:

    What are you talking about? They probably just figure, since the government can do it, why can’t we?

    Whether it is an accident or not, it does get “convenient” I’d look more at how much the case could cost them as well, it may be a factor.

  7. B says:

    Looking at the results of the trials, losing evidence hasn’t been a winning strategy for U-Haul. They’ve been sanctioned by the courts, forced to settle, and in at least cases the judge has thrown out the defense’s arguments and ruled in favor of the plaintiff without a trial, awarding the plaintiffs the full amount of the suit. If U-Haul is losing the evidence on purpose, they’re more incompetent than I thought.

  8. fragmore says:

    !! out of 10000 over a 10 year period? Get serious! Where’s the? meat in this stupid story

  9. dgandy says:

    on another U-Haul note: I rented a trailer from them 2 days ago (yes, even after reading the LA Time article…there just weren’t any other options). I kept the trailer for about 6 hrs and returned it that night. The next day i got a message telling me the trailer was overdue, even though i was told as long as it was back by 7am i was in the clear. That company needs to get their act together.

    I was also talking to the mechanic who was helping me w/ the trailer, and he said that all the reports didn’t surprise him

  10. dbeahn says:

    So in other words, this should be headlined:

    “U-HAUL Has EXCELLENT record of keeping evidence safe when sued – Police Departments across the country should take notes….”

  11. kimsama says:

    @Bay State Darren: I couldn’t agree more – 10,000 law suits in 9 years, holy poop. Not only are they a magnet for litigation because of their terrible and unsafe business practices, they just plain suck at doing their job — you can never get the truck you reserved, and never at the time you needed it. From my own personal experiences with them (all horrible), I can’t ever imagine using them again, especially not after reading the article.

    Also, IANAL, but I would guess that losing evidence works for them because possibly in the really horrible instances of criminal neglect, the lost evidence would have given the plaintiff a higher jury award or something.

    Finally, have you read the comments section of the L.A. Times article? It looks like U-Haul called out its trolls to blame the victims even in the comments section. Gross. Seriously. If I ever needed another reason to avoid U-Haul (P.S. I don’t), the fact that they are so dishonest as to flood the comments of a good, in-depth story, and disparage their victims would be more than enough to put me over the top.

  12. anatak says:

    @Bay State Darren:
    exactly. Its not the “11 out of 10,000″ that surprised me, but more of the “10,000″.

    wow, U-Haul, sucks to be you.

  13. sonichghog says:

    I wonder how many of those suits are people who got into accidents. Then Blamed U-Haul instead of themselves.

    As well as those people who were hit by U-Haul trucks, and instead of suing the driver went for the deep pockets. (see:U-haul)

  14. kimsama says:

    @sonichghog: Let’s say that people being hit with U-Haul trucks do file a suit against U-Haul. I would assume it’d be thrown out if they weren’t at fault. But what it looks like is that they don’t maintain their vehicles, which would definitely make them open to litigation, against both the renter and anyone involved in the accident. After all, it’s not the renter’s fault if the brakes don’t work, it’s U-Haul’s. They should be sued in instances like that (something like 60% of their fleet is not up-to-date on maintenance).

  15. sonichghog says:

    @KIMSAMA
    True. But that does not mean they are not safe. Its just leaves them open to suits. Not being fully maintained could mean bad breaks. But It could also mean 100 Miles overdue on an oil change.

    Its standard pratcice to go after the person or corp with the deepest pockets. I bet you would be really hard pressed to find ANYONE that got in an accident driving a U-Haul truck, saying it was actually there fault and not the trucks.

  16. mbrutsch says:

    This is standard risk management. (Ever see Fight Club?) Even though the company has apparently *lost* in these few cases, they did not have a judgement entered against them; they usually settle, without taking responsibility for the claims. And just because they were caught in 11 cases, does not imply that they acted ethically in the other 9,989 cases. These were just the most egregious cases found by the LA Times.

  17. kimsama says:

    @sonichghog:

    But that does not mean they are not safe. Its just leaves them open to suits.

    But that’s the point. If they don’t want to be sued, they should clean up their business practices and maintain their vehicles. Since not maintaining their fleet is negligence, I would sue them if they didn’t maintain a vehicle that was involved in an accident with me, regardless of what was wrong with the vehicle. Negligence is negligence.

    One of the best ways that consumers can keep corporations in line is by suing them when they are negligent — that’s one of the reasons we’re fairly safe as consumers here in the U.S.

  18. Let’s see – you write an article a day complaining that you hate U-Haul and how awful they are. We got it after the first day. Can you move on and start whining about the next company who you dont’ like?

  19. velocipenguin says:

    Although I cannot dispute the appalling negligence exhibited by U-Haul, I have very little sympathy for those who were injured or killed by their own failure to wear a seat belt. Failing to take a simple but crucial safety precaution that is often required by law is fairly reckless, and I’m amazed that a jury would award $2.6 million to someone whose own negligent behavior played a significant role in causing injury.

  20. sinclair__ says:

    U-Haul didn’t lose evidence in 11/10,000 cases. The correct statement is that the Times identified 11 cases in which U-Haul lost evidence.

    We don’t know how many cases had lost evidence that the Times did not identify. I would guess many cases were settled with confidentiality clauses (pretty standard). The Times would not be able to tell if these cases had lost evidence or not.

  21. juri squared says:

    The thing that bothers me is the number of lawsuits settled. It sounds to me like U-Haul is leery of having any of these suits become public record and hushes them up pretty damned quickly.

  22. firefruze says:

    There was a DS-Max article placed beside this article this morning…. what gives Consumerist?

  23. nikkiblueiizz says:

    I am just researching the nightmare UHAUL has caused for other families, like the HELL I have endured because of UHAUL. I am a single mother of 3, and I suffer from a terminal heart condition. I used UHAUL twice in the past 8 months, both times costing me a combined rate of over 6 thousand dollars. The UHAUL REP (apparently now, he is only a SUB-CONTRACTOR), hooked up my 4×4 Pathfinder, to the WRONG DOLLIE, and BURNED OUT MY TRANSMISSION AND DRIVESHAFT…after a 22 hour drive, and several phone calls…the remedy UHAUL suggested….go find the SUBCONTRACTOR….and we will give you 750 dollars no liablility for a 2200 dollar repair job…I waited a few days to arrange to unload our 26′ truck full of our belongings….GUESS WHAT?? They gave me an additional BILL for storage….for 2200 dollars…hmmm….isnt that the same as the repair??
    So, I asked what I could do, as what little I have, I cannot afford to lose…and UHAUL ADVISED ME….”You are ONE person, against a multi million corporation” Its a waste of time and money….HMMM…wonder if they will think that way, when I investigate news stories, and “ENTER MY ONE PERSON PLEA FOR JUSTICE”