10/13/2016Virginia: Overcharged Toll Road Customers Win $1.3 Million Settlement
Excessive fees settlement forces Virginia toll road operator to reform the way it deals with unpaid tolls.
A federal court last week gave final approval to a settlement over excessive toll road "administrative fees" in Virginia. The agreement followed US District Court Judge James C. Cacheris's decision to side with motorists who were charged up to $31,000 for $50 in tolls that were not collected because of errors on the part of Transurban, which runs toll lanes on Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway. To put an end to the court case, the Australian firm agreed to pay $1,350,000 to settle with an estimated 40,000 affected drivers.
For innocent motorists who had been charged between $100 and $300 in administrative fees and penalties as of March 1, the refund is $10. Those with big-ticket fees over $300 will be able to take back 70 percent of what they paid to Transurban in penalties. To qualify for a refund, motorists will have to prove that they had a valid E-ZPass account at the time they received a violation notice. In addition, anyone who left unpaid a fine from March 2015 and earlier are off the hook. The debt will be forgiven and black marks on credit records will be erased.
As a result of the settlement, the toll road operator agreed to a series of reforms that will make it more difficult to rack up massive fees over minor violations in the future. Customers will now have a chance to deal with common problems, such as the expiration of a credit card linked to a toll transponder, before the violation clock begins ticking.
"Transurban will introduce new initiatives to enable customers to sign up for missed toll email alerts and provide Virginia E-ZPass customers additional time (from five days to ten days) to replenish their account to pay a toll missed due to insufficient funds before facing any additional fees," the company explained in a statement. "Transurban will also generally wait at least ninety days (currently at least sixty days) before sending violations to debt collection as part of the agreed terms of the settlement."
While motorists receiving $10 may not be thrilled by the outcome, the lawyers who brought the case walked away with a $675,000 check from Transurban to cover legal expenses for 1730 hours spent litigating the case.