National class action filed against Fairview Heights merchant over credit card receipts

Ann Knef Oct. 11, 2007, 11:33am

Marion attorney John R. Patchett has filed a second federal class action lawsuit alleging his client and others were wronged when a merchant printed the last four digits and expiration dates of credit cards on receipts.

The new suit is a proposed national class action.

Filed Oct. 9 in the Southern District of Illinois, the suit claims Trees N Trends -- located at 1953 West Highway 50 in Fairview Heights -- violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) when it conducted business with Williamson County resident Stephen Woods on Sept. 12.

Patchett filed a similar suit against Expedia, Inc. in July. In that one Williamson County resident Natalie Sutton proposes to lead the class. The suit seeks punitive and statutory damages, as well as attorneys' fees, costs and a permanent injunction enjoining Expedia, doing business as, from engaging in conduct that violates FACTA.

The statute was passed in 2003 and provides that anyone accepting credit or debit cards may not print more than the last five digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of sale or transaction.

Credit card machines (devices) put into use after Jan. 1, 2005, required immediate compliance with FACTA. Machines in use before Jan. 1, 2005, were required to be in compliance by Dec. 4, 2006.

The new suit alleges Trees N Trends has printed expiration dates and/or more than the last five digits of credit or debit cards on receipts at the point of sale.

"Each and every such receipt violated (FACTA), irrespective of when the Device was put into use," the complaint states.

The suit also names Defendant Does 1 through 10 as affiliated and integrated enterprises.

"Trees N Trends' violations were not the product of an accident or an isolated oversight," the complaint states. "Rather, Trees N Trends knowingly and intentionally continued to use Devices which were not programmed to, or otherwise did not comply with (FACTA)."

Members of the proposed class can be ascertained from Trees N Trends's records, the complaint states.

Co-counsel includes Barrett & Associates of Nashville, Tenn. and Spragins, Barnett & Cobb and Gilbert & Russell of Jackson, Tenn. The firms teamed up in the other suit as well.

Common questions of law as stated in the complaint are:

  • Whether defendants printed prohibited information on credit card or debit card receipts in violation of FACTA;

  • Whether defendants' conduct constituted willful noncompliance with FACTA;

  • Whether class members are entitled to recover statutory damages, punitive damages or attorneys' fees.

    The suit states that class members are entitled to monetary relief of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for each violation.

    "Plaintiff and class members also were exposed to at least an increased risk of identity theft by reason of defendant's conduct," the complaint states.

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