Electronic signature pad. Photo courtesy of Computime.
A federal judge refused to certify a class of consumers who claim that Dollar Thrifty adds extra charges onto contracts in violation of consumer law, according to a report by Court House News. This is the second time a class action suit was dismissed on this case.
In 2012, plaintiffs Sandra McKinnon and Kirsten Tool sued Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group for allegedly defrauding them and other customers in California and Oklahoma. After allegedly orally declining additional services such as damage waivers and insurance, the plaintiffs claim that Dollar employees misled them into checking boxes on the electric signature pad that actually added the extra services.
The plaintiffs claimed that the company relies "on the hustle and rush of airports to send their customers away without having reviewed their rental charges, thereby giving Dollar a basis for claiming that their customers routinely agree to the add-on charges," according to the report.
The two proposed classes at issue included all U.S. residents who obtained a car rental since Jan. 1, 2009 — from certain California locations or online — and were charged for a loss damage waiver when their own car insurance applied to rental cars.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification but gave them leave to amend their class definitions. She found that Dollar Thrifty’s practices concerning disclosure of the waivers were "not uniform," since "the placement of signs, the provision of oral disclosures, and initialing procedures all varied temporally and by location."
"While some common evidence might exist specific to each location and within specific time frames, plaintiffs have not put forward a more narrow class subject to proof," Rogers wrote in her 16-page ruling.
Rogers also found that one of the proposed classes — which covers consumers who rented their cars in person rather than online — was not ascertainable, according to the report.
When determining whether a particular individual purchased a waiver "in circumstances in which the requisite disclosures were lacking," Rogers said, "the court agrees that it is not feasible to resolve this question on a class-wide basis."
“It is possible that a much more narrow class focused on the sole issue of lack of signage for specific locations within a specific time period may be appropriate," said Rogers.
Rogers gave the plaintiffs until May 3 to file an amended motion for class certification.