Class Action Litigation News

by John Chapman

Lawsuit accuses Dollar Rent a Car of widespread signature scam

A recently filed class action lawsuit against Dollar Rent a Car alleges that over the last four years the company has implemented a systematic program nationwide through which its employees and agents illegally dupe customers into signing up for collision damage waiver (‘CDW’), car insurance and other added services that consumers have specifically declined. According to the complaint, customers who decline additional insurance are asked to sign an electronic pad acknowledging the rental on a signature screen, and are told that signing the screen will indicate they declined the added services. This signature is then transferred to an electronic contract falsely indicating they accepted the insurance. When the duped customer tries to dispute the charges – which can amount to hundreds of dollars – they are ignored or blamed for making a mistake.

According to the class action lawsuit, the company provides incentives to its employees of up to 12% commission on the sales of collision damage waiver, insurance and other products. As a result, Dollar representatives that are paid minimum wage can take home up to $6,000 per month in additional compensation through such practices.

The Dollar Rent a Car signature scam class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of Dollar customers who paid for CDW, insurance and other products from Dollar that they specifically declined or did not authorize during the past four years. It is seeking actual, compensatory, statutory and exemplary damages and an injunction barring Dollar from continuing this alleged scheme. The case is Sandra McKinnon v. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. d/b/a Dollar Rent a Car, et al., Case No. 12-cv-4457, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Courthouse.

Ninth Circuit reverses class settlement of claims against Experian

Consumers who have been through bankruptcy filed a class action alleging that Defendants Experian Information Systems, Inc ., TransUnion LLC, and Equifax Information Services LLC issued consumer credit reports with negative entries for debts already discharged in bankruptcy. In February 2009, the parties reached an agreement for monetary relief. The monetary settlement creates a common fund of $45 million, $15 million contributed by each of the three defendants.

The agreement also provided for “incentive awards” to “each of the Named Plaintiffs serving as class representatives in support of the Settlement, and each such award not to exceed $5,000.00.” Some members of the class objected to incentive awards, arguing that conditioning the awards on “support of the Settlement” created a conflict of interest between the representatives and the class. The Ninth Circuit of Appeals agreed and has now revered the district court’s approval of the settlement.

The settlement agreement, like others we have approved in the past, granted incentive awards to the class representatives for their service to the class. But unlike the incentive awards that we have approved before, these awards were conditioned on the class representatives’ support for the settlement. These conditional incentive awards caused the interests of the class representatives to diverge from the interests of the class because the settlement agreement told class representatives that they would not receive incentive awards unless they supported the settlement. Moreover, the conditional incentive awards significantly exceeded in amount what absent class members could expect to get upon settlement approval. Because these circumstances created a patent divergence of interests between the named representatives and the class, we conclude that the class representatives and class counsel did not adequately represent the absent class members, and for this reason the district court should not have approved the class-action settlement.

Radcliffe v. Experian Information Solutions Inc., — F.3d —- (9th Cir. April 22, 2013). The case was sent back to the district court for further proceedings.

Class action litigation at HO&P

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have represented numerous class action plaintiffs in various consumer class actions. Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

If you believe you may have a proposed class action complaint, contact us for a free consultation by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by filling out the free consultation form on this page to find out more about your legal options.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.

by John Chapman

John Chapman is a licensed attorney with experience in complex commercial litigation (including securities fraud, RICO, shareholder oppression, and derivative actions) and personal injury litigation.