NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - A Florida woman is suing Avis Budget Rental Car Group LLC for charging drivers for traffic tickets incurred while renting Avis vehicles without providing the renters the opportunity to contest the fines.
Avis and ATS Processing Services LLC pay alleged toll violations, speeding tickets and other traffic infractions incurred by class members, often prior to providing them with notice of the alleged fine, and then charge the class members an administrative fee for processing the violations, according to a complaint filed Sept. 30 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Dawn Valli claims while the rental agreement between the class and the defendants obligates the class members to pay fines incurred in an Avis Budget vehicle during the rental term, the agreement does not include a waiver of the class members' rights to timely notice of and/or the contest of the alleged infractions.
The agreement also does not authorize Avis to share the class members' personal information with, or delegate the processing of such fines to, ATS and does not authorize Avis to charge its customers an unreasonable and excessive processing fee, according to the suit.
"Avis Budget unilaterally chooses to pay such fines on behalf of class members to the authority that issued the alleged violation, very often, if not always, without notice to the class member, and without making any effort to contest the alleged fine on behalf of the class member, even though Avis Budget has no knowledge as to whether the class member actually committed the purported infraction," the complaint states.
Valli claims Avis contracts with ATS to process and administer the payment of the fines for, and the collection of the fines from, the class.
However, the class did not enter any contractual agreement with ATS, and Avis, together with ATS, not only pay the fines without any meaningful notice to the class, but it also charges and collects from the class an unreasonable and excessive handling or administration fee, according to the suit.
"As a result of defendants' conduct, plaintiff and the class have been injured in the form of...the deprivation of their due process rights to contest the fines and economic injury, including the obligation to pay defendants an unreasonable and excessive administration/handling fee," the complaint states.
Valli rented a car from Avis and during that time, the defendants paid a speeding violation issued against the rental vehicle and the defendants did not provide her any notice of the alleged speeding violation until after they had paid the fine.
The defendants charged Valli's credit card $180, which was $150 for the fine and $30 for the "handling fee," according to the suit.
Valli claims Avis sent her a demand for payment a full 45 days before the deadline to contest her ticket, at which point Avis had already paid on her behalf.
The defendants violated New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and were unjustly enriched at the expense of the class members, the complaint says.
Valli is seeking class certification and compensatory and punitive damages. She is represented by William J. Pinilis, Laurence D. King and Linda M. Fong of Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP; and Marc A. Wites of Wites & Kapetan PA.
The case is assigned to District Judge Claire C. Cecchi.
U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey case number: 2:14-cv-06072
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.