Avis Rent A Car Inc. agreed to pay $1.85 million to settle discrimination lawsuits over the denial of rental cars to black people by a franchisee in North Carolina. The suits, filed last year in federal court in Wilmington, N.C., contended that Avis and the franchisee, New Hanover Rent-A-Car Inc., denied cars to black customers under racist policies created by New Hanover's owner. Customers' attorneys contended that Avis' national executives knew about the policies and did nothing. Attorney John Relman said plaintiffs agreed to settle after an investigation showed there was no nationwide "pattern or practice" of discrimination by Avis or its franchisees. Avis did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement. The customers' suit against New Hanover is scheduled to go to trial in January. Shares of Garden City, N.Y.-based Avis, the second-largest U.S. rental car company, rose $2.75 to close at $33.38 on the New York Stock Exchange.