Fraud class action against AOL in for case management

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 22, 2005, 5:22am

Granite City resident Rosa White will be in Circuit Judge Nicholas
Byron's courtroom on March 30 at 9 a.m. for a case management conference in her class action complaint against America Online (AOL).

White, who accused AOL of fraud, filed her case April 7, 2004. She is
represented by Gary Peel of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.

She claims that AOL pursued a profit scheme to force-sell various products to her and other members of the proposed class by taking money from their bank accounts and credit cards. White's suit claims AOL used customers' personal banking information that was previously provided when custmers signed up for AOL Internet service.

White claims AOL took $79.99 from her bank account for "creditalert" and claims the withdrawal was unauthorized and unsolicited on May 13, 2003.

According to White's suit, AOL uses customers' personal banking to charge them for unsolicited products or services.

"AOL knew or should have known that class members would fail to
discover or protest these charges, enabling AOL to wrongfully keep the money," the complaint states.

White also claims that on the rare occasion a consumer discovers the
unauthorized deduction, AOL's telephone representatives are trained to use a high pressure telemarketing procedure and a deceptive and unfair carefully-designed script to sell the product in question rather than refund money.

"Even when the consumer is aggressive and relentless, AOL only refunds the unauthorized charge or some part of that charge, but fails to pay other damages such as the interest or float improperly generated on plaintiffs' money," the complaint continued.

White claims AOL replaced her $79.99, but failed to compensate her for other damages; namely the overdraft charge, the interest earned on her money, and the fee to obtain a new ATM card which White cancelled so AOL could not charge more amounts.

She is seeking a judgment certifying the class, and appointing her
counsel to represent the class, finding that AOL's actions constitute
statutory fraud, unfair practice, and unjust enrichment, and an award
of money damages to her and members of the class but in no event to
exceed $75,000 per class member and an award for attorney fees and

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