Fla. AG settles with two law book publishers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a settlement on Tuesday with two law book publishers to resolve allegations that consumers received publications they did not intend to order.

West Publishing Corporation and Thomson Reuters Tax Accounting Inc. allegedly placed customers into automatic subscription renewals and automated shipment plans for their publications without adequate disclosures. Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act requires that consumers be told clearly about the terms of automatic subscription renewals and automatic product shipments and agree to the terms for such plans to be lawful.

Under the terms of the settlement, West Publishing and Thomson Reuters agreed to provide up to $6 million in restitution to consumers who received law books, newsletters and other publications in print, CD and e-book formats that they did not want to order. The settlement fund will offer refunds to all Floridians who unknowingly paid for certain publications that were automatically shipped or for subscriptions that were automatically renewed after Jan. 31, 2010. The companies will send claim forms to all consumers who are eligible to request refunds.

As part of the agreement, West Publishing and Thomson Reuters will also modify their business practices to make sure that automatic renewal of subscriptions and automatic shipment plans are put in place only after all appropriate disclosures are provided to consumers and after customers provide affirmative consent to the terms.

Bondi's office previously reached two other settlements with large legal publishing companies, including an agreement with Matthew Bender and Company Inc. in April 2009 and with CCH in February 2013.

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