Class action: Intoxalock tried to enforce invalid contracts, force thousands in fees to remove car ignition lock devices

By Scott Holland | Oct 11, 2018

A driver who uses a court-ordered ignition interlock system filed a class action complaint over what he said are exorbitant fees to have the device removed.

Kurt Johnson filed a complaint Oct. 2 in Cook County Circuit Court against Consumer Safety Technology, which sells the Intoxalock ignition inhibitors, which require drivers to prove a safe blood-alcohol content before allowing them to turn on their car. He said the company falsely induces customers and tells them they signed binding contracts requiring payments of undisclosed fees.

Johnson said a court ordered him to install an ignition interlock device on April 24, 2015, for a period of one year, and he secured terms from Consumer Safety the next month. He said he had to pay only $10 toward installation and a $90 monthly fee, but was allowed to cancel the contract at any time. CST said it would recalibrate the device wirelessly as needed to keep the vehicle operational, saving him trips to a technician, and would remove it with no additional fee upon his request.

According to the complaint, Johnson didn’t have a written contract with CST. He said the company continued to bill his credit card monthly after he contacted the company to cancel on Nov. 30, 2015, and did so despite further notification twice the following month and after his one-year court supervision expired the following April. He said the device stopped working in the summer of 2016, forcing him to take the car to a technician to have it recalibrated so he could drive, rather than fixing it wirelessly as pledged.

He finally heard from CST on Oct. 3, 2016, when the company told Johnson he’d signed a contract requiring closeout, early termination and account fees. He said the company sent him a copy of the contract, but Johnson noted it didn’t bear his signature. In November 2016 the company charged him $89.95 to close the account and $3,659 as a closeout and equipment fee, saying it wouldn’t remove the device until he paid. The complaint said CST “harassed Johnson for payment at least twice per week,” playing a recorded message claiming he violated the terms of a contract he never signed.

Formal allegations include violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, common law fraud, breach of contract and conversion. Johnson brings all four counts individually as well as with class allegations.

The class would include thousands of drivers who obtained an ignition interlock device from CST within the preceding three to five years — the longer terms for the common law and breach allegations — and who maintain they didn’t have a written agreement with the company. Johnson said “CST uses scripts in explaining the terms of use of IIDs to consumers,” and the conduct he alleged in his complaint constitutes the company’s standard operating procedure.

In addition to class certification, Johnson wants the court to prevent CST from altering print or digital records that relate to his claim, to award compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees, and to compel a “full refund of all unfair amounts charged and collected.”

The complaint said although he and potential class members did not sign contracts, they relied on the company’s statements indicating they did and therefore made payments that were not actually owed.

Representing Johnson in the matter, and seeking to serve as putative class attorney, is Keith Allen, of Mandell Menkes LLC, of Chicago.

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Circuit Court of Cook County Mandell Menkes Llc

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