LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – A consumer from California and another from
Michigan have filed a class action lawsuit in the Golden State against a company over offender monitoring products.
Allison Turner of California and Allen Scioli of Michigan
filed suit individually and on behalf of others June 17 in U.S. District Court for
the Central District of California against B.I. Inc., BI Mobile Breath
Inc. and Soberlink Healthcare LLC.
The pair claims to have suffered damages by
being misled after purchasing a product they thought was certified by the U.S.
Department of Transportation. They are citing
fraud, negligent misrepresentation, production
liability and unjust enrichment.
BI Inc. provides offender
monitoring products and services to help federal, state and local agencies
monitor parolees, probationers, pretrial defendants and others. The products
the company offers include GPS tracking systems typically used for high-risk
offenders, alcohol-monitoring systems like mobile breath alcohol devices, and
electronic monitoring products to observe curfews and schedules.
According to documents filed with the
district court, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants, who market and sell
their alcohol-testing devices to the general public, claim their testing
devices as being admissible and certified by courts and the U.S. Department of
Transportation (DOT). The plaintiffs say that the testing devices are “generally
not admissible at trial and have been deemed unreliable in court.”
Furthermore, the plaintiffs claim that the
testing devices also are not certified or approved by the DOT and are not
listed on the DOT’s conforming products list as an alcohol screening device or
an evidential breath-measurement device. The plaintiffs also cite issues with
the performance of the product.
In court documentation, it was shown that
Turner purchased and used the SL2 model of Soberlink’s testing device for use
in a child custody case. Scioli’s daughter, Christina Scioloi, was allegedly in a
court-ordered monitoring program and he rented a testing device.
plaintiffs claim that during their use of the monitoring programs, the testing
devices “repeatedly displayed error codes, failed to upload test results,
erroneously reported missed tests and returned false positive test results.”
Pablo E. Paez, vice president of corporate
relations with The GEO Group Inc., which owns the companies involved in the
lawsuit, told Legal Newsline he could not comment on litigation-related matters.
Andre Mura, a partner at Gibbs
Law Group and of counsel to Girard Gibbs, told Legal Newsline that under California’s false
advertising law, companies are prohibiting from making statements about
products or services that are false or misleading.
false advertising law is part of the state’s robust consumer protection laws,”
he said. “It’s one such law that can be privately enforced by consumers and
actions to enforce the law can be brought by the attorney general. For
consumers, it provides important protection.”
California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act
(CLRA) was enacted by the California legislature in 1970 and is considered by
the legal field to be a powerful piece of legislation.