A family is suing two Illinois law firms that they claim violated their rights by using an accident report to send them mailings offering assistance in bringing a lawsuit.
Antonio Pavone and Karen Pavone, along with their infant child, filed two lawsuits Feb. 19 in Chicago's federal court, one against St. Louis-based firm of Meyerkord & Meyerkord LLC, which has an office in downstate Granite City, and the other against the Law Offices of Anthony Mancini LLC in Chicago.
The Pavones claim they received separate mailings from the two personal injury firms shortly after a vehicle rear-ended their Chevrolet Equinox on Jan. 15 at an intersection in Schaumburg. Police on the scene filled out and filed an Illinois Traffic Crash Report.
The first mailing they allege they received came from the Meyerkord firm and arrived the day after the incident --Jan. 16-- and included their unredacted crash report. Several days later, the Pavones contend they got a mailing from Mancini's firm on Jan. 21 that also included an unredacted copy of the crash report.
In their nearly identical lawsuits against the firms, the Pavones assert they "were shocked and dismayed, very concerned that their personal information had been transmitted to someone they did not know and used to solicit them for legal representation" after receiving the mailings.
"The Pavones were particularly distressed by the fact that information about their infant son had been obtained … without their express consent,” the suits add.
The crash report included in both mailings included the couple’s home address, telephone number, license plate numbers of the cars involved in the accident, Antonio Pavones’ driver’s license number and the full name of Pavones' child.
The firms' separate mailings were included in the lawsuits as exhibits.
The mailing from Meyerkord & Meyerkord states that it learned about the wreck “through public records” while the mailing from The Law Offices of Anthony Mancini does not explain how it came to learn of the couple's accident.
Among other details, the mailings outline how the Pavones could get money to pay for any costs related to potential injuries that were the result of the January wreck. Both firms stressed they wouldn't get paid unless the family recovered damages for the crash.
Meyerkord's mailing, which included the words "advertising material" near the top of the letter and was signed by attorney Geoffrey S. Meyerkord, guaranteed a larger settlement than what the Pavones’ insurance company could offer.
The mailing from Mancini's firm, signed by Anthony Mancini, urged the couple to "Get legal help now!" and said insurance companies have lawyers representing their interests.
It goes on to say, "By now, you may have been contacted by an insurance adjuster asking for a recorded statement. Do you realize that you could say something that could be used against you — even if the insurance adjuster is from your own insurance company."
Regardless of what the mailings said, the Pavones claim both of the defendant law firms violated the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 in sending them. The act prohibits sharing personal information gathered by state agencies that issue drivers’ licenses and other information relating to operating a motor vehicle.
The Pavones claim that the law firms' alleged violation of the act has caused them emotional distress, anxiety and a fear for the safety of their son.
They are asking for an award of $2,500 each time each of the defendants “knowingly obtained, disclosed or used personal information from a motor vehicle record in any manner not permitted under the DPPA.”
In addition, the family is seeking punitive damages if the court the firms did violate the act and did so willfully or recklessly.
Attorney Roger Zamparo Jr. of Zamparo Law Group P.C. in Rolling Meadows filed the two complaints on behalf of the Pavones.