Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth scheduled a case management conference in a suit alleging the state inappropriately charged a $1 processing fee for firearm owner identification cards, pending his ruling on the plaintiff’s motion for class certification.

In his Nov. 16 order, Ruth scheduled the case management conference for Dec. 14 at 9 a.m.

Wood River attorney Thomas Maag filed the class action on Oct. 15, 2015, for plaintiff Gary Patrick Sterr, who says he was charged the extra dollar as a convenience fee through the Illinois E-pay program for processing applications online.

Firearms Services Bureau chief Jessica Trame and Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs are named defendants in the suit. They are represented by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

In his complaint, Maag argues that statute 430 ILCS 65/5 expressly states that the FOID fee is $10.

By charging an additional $1, he claims Trame is unilaterally imposing a 10 percent surcharge on FOID cards without statutory authority.

He further claims it is impossible to get a FOID card without paying the extra fee on top of the $10 mandatory cost (except for certain members of the military who are exempt all together) because the Firearms Services Bureau stopped accepting paper applications that allowed people to mail $10 checks or money orders.

"Defendants have charged a minimum of ten thousand people, and possibly substantially more, well into the hundreds of thousands or millions of class members," Maag wrote.

In 2011, the state received 321,000 FOID applications, he wrote.

Maag notes that in order to lawfully possess a firearm in Illinois, "it is generally required to have in a person's possession a currently valid" FOID card.

The plaintiff also asked the court to certify the case as a class action. Maag seeks to represent a class including anyone who applied for a FOID card any time in 2015 and who paid a fee in excess of $10.

Trame and Frerichs objected to the class definition in their April 15 response to Sterr’s motion for class certification. They argue that the proposed class definition is too vague and potentially overbroad. They ask that the class be more specifically defined.

The defendants proposed a class certification to include “all persons who applied for a Firearm Owners Identification card from March 15, 2015, through and including the date of final judgment, and paid a $1.00 payment processing service fee in addition to a $10.00 application fee upon submission of that application.”

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1337

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