Legal Newsline

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Consumers allege offender monitoring products were falsely advertised

By Kristin Danley-Greiner | Aug 23, 2016

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. 

Both 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.

“California’s 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.

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Organizations in this Story

Gibbs Law Group U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. District Court - Central District of California