8/7/2013ATS Settles PlatePass Rental Car Ticketing Lawsuit
Traffic camera company racks up $15 million bill to settle toll road and traffic camera lawsuits.
American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and the rental firm Hertz have decided to pay $11 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by motorists who had hidden fees deducted from their credit card accounts after they used a toll road. Plaintiffs in the suit complained that under ATS' PlatePass program, for example, $10.75 was automatically billed from their credit card to cover a 75 cent toll. The plaintiffs say they had no idea they had signed up for this "service" when they rented the car.
The $11 million payment comes on top of the $4.2 million that ATS will pay to red light camera ticket recipients in New Jersey as part of a settlement for illegally issuing tickets at intersections where the yellow signal timing was not justified. Ticket recipients in that case began receiving post cards this week.
The PlatePass settlement applies to anyone who rented a vehicle from Hertz between July 1, 2006 and March 31, 2010, and had PlatePass-related charges added to their bill. Attorneys for the motorists reviewed the entire PlatePass database and 6 gigabytes worth of data to make their case that had ATS find it better to settle the potential damages for pennies on the dollar.
"Defendants consider it desirable, fair and reasonable that this action be resolved upon the terms and conditions set forth in this agreement in order to avoid the expense, risk, uncertainty and interference with ongoing business operations inherent in any litigation," the settlement agreement states.
The settlement agreement leaves it between ATS and Hertz to decide whether "one or both" companies should pay the refunds. The lawyers who filed the class action suit will pocket $3.1 million. Drivers, on the other hand, will receive 67 percent of any administrative fee paid to ATS on the first use of PlatePass, and a 38 percent refund for all subsequent charges. ATS could end up paying less than the $11 million settlement amount if postcard recipients do not bother filling out and returning the "proof of claim" form within 90 days to receive a few dollars back.
Those affected have until September 24 to opt out of the settlement and US District Judge Noel L. Hillmanhas scheduled a hearing for final approval of the deal on October 15.
A copy of the information packet for the proposed settlement is available in a 220k PDF file at the source link below.