Shopping for lawsuits with Julie Wheeler

The Madison County Record Sep. 29, 2012, 1:46am

Do you ever wonder how plaintiffs get the ideas for some of the crazy lawsuits written about in this publication? Do plaintiffs come up with the ideas or do they get help from elsewhere?

Do they use their imagination, or their Maagination?

Take Julie Wheeler, for instance. Is she a righteous lawsuit filer or did someone put her up to suing Schwegel's Food Markets in Madison County Circuit Court?

Wheeler says she was charged 75 cents when she cashed a check for $68.80 at the Alton grocery store on April 23. She claims state law prohibits check-cashing fees of more than 50 cents or one percent of the check's face value.

In other words, she would have had to have been cashing a check for $75 in order to justify a fee of 75 cents. For a check of $68.80, a fee of no more than 68 or 69 cents would apply, supposedly.

It's odd, though, isn't it, how the amount of her check is close to the threshold, but just shy enough to support an overcharge claim. What a coincidence that was. It almost makes you wonder about the set-up of the whole thing.

Why didn't Wheeler protest the fee at the time and settle with the store manager? Why didn't she report the incident and let the proper state authority handle it?

That might have ruined Wheeler's chance to seek a judgment in excess of $50,000 as the lead plaintiff in a class action suit on behalf of all Schwegel customers who claim to have been overcharged for cashing checks.

Her attorney is the pride of Wood River: Peter Maag, the same Peter Maag who represented Mary Voyles in a surprisingly similar lawsuit that was settled two years ago.

It was a class action suit against Super Valu stores on behalf of customers who were allegedly overcharged when cashing checks at the Shop 'n Save and Jewel/Osco grocery chains.

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