SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) - A class action lawsuit against Bose Corp. for alleged violations of a California law designed to protect consumers’ privacy and personal information may be moving toward a resolution as lawyers for both sides have had cooperative discussions about the case, the plaintiffs' attorney said.
“They have not admitted any fault,” attorney E. Elliot Adler of the Adler Law Group in San Diego told Legal Newsline, “but they are very cooperative with us in moving the case forward and seeking to resolve it.”
Filed in late January in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the lawsuit alleges that the audio equipment company violated the state’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, which was passed in 1971. The lawsuit stated that the California law had been enacted to help protect consumers’ personal information from being collected and sold off to the highest bidder.
The complaint also indicated that the law was designed to prevent subsequent harassment by store clerks who obtained a shopper’s address and telephone number.
The lawsuit alleges that Patrick Keegan was shopping at a Bose retail outlet in Carlsbad and purchased goods he paid for with a credit card. During the transaction, however, the cashier requested Keegan’s driver’s license, phone number and address, and Keegan assumed that he had to provide the information as a condition to complete the transaction, the lawsuit states.
The employee next typed the information into a store computer terminal, the complaint states. Adler said the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, which was amended in 1991, expressly prohibits retailers from requesting such information from cardholders while a purchase is made.
“They can’t make it a condition of the sale, and what they were doing was exactly that,” Adler said, indicating that the cashier asked Keegan for the personal information prior to completing the credit card transaction.
The complaint charges that Bose has engaged in a pattern of obtaining personal information from its customers and that the company seemed to lack a policy of advising employees about the provisions of the California law.
“There was no policy in place that protected against violating the Song-Beverly Act,” Adler said. “Or if there was a policy, it was not adhered to.”
He said that a number of lawsuits have been filed against companies for similar behavior, but his law firm has only uncovered evidence against Bose. “I think there are many retailers that do this,” Adler said.
He emphasized that the case was still in its preliminary stages and that no trial date has been set.
“But a settlement is always possible,” Adler added.
The class in the Keegan case is defined as all those customers of Bose retail stores in California who purchased goods with credit cards -- in the year prior to the lawsuit being filed -- and gave out personal information during transactions in response to employee requests. The complaint seeks monetary penalties of up to $250 for primary violations of the Song-Beverly Act and up to $1,000 for each subsequent violation.
Bose representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the case.