CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois commuter sued the rail system serving Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, arguing that its tickets unlawfully expire after one year, when state statutes, which lump them with “gift certificates,” require they be good for at least five.
John DiVito, the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, filed the class action against the Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority and the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation in Cook County Court.
Together the defendants, which are public corporations, do business under the trade name “Metra.” Under that corporate umbrella they manage 241 stations and 11 lines running to and from downtown Chicago.
As part of those activities, the defendants sell monthly passes, 10-Ride Tickets which are good for one year, and One-Way Tickets, which are valid for 14 days from the date of purchase, according to the complaint.
DiVito says he “has purchased at least three different 10-Ride Tickets in the last three years. All of them are now expired, and he has only used a handful of the rides on each of the passes. Therefore, he has paid for services he will never receive because of Metra’s illegal expiration date policy. In other words, Metra has extracted the cost of thirty rides from Mr. DiVito and only allowed him to use eleven rides.”
He claims that “Metra’s limited ride tickets, including 10-Ride Tickets and One-Way Tickets, all expire in under five years. While Metra may not call its 10-Ride Tickets or One-Way Tickets ‘gift certificates,’ that is exactly what they are under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. (ICFA)”
“Metra 10-Ride Tickets and One-Way Tickets are ‘records evidencing a promise, made for consideration, by the seller or issuer of the record that goods or services will be provided to the holder of the record for the value shown in the record… that is prefunded and for which the value is decremented upon each use,'” the complaint states, quoting the ICFA.
“The ICFA requires that gift certificates – whether or not titled gift certificates – expire no earlier than 5 years after the date of issuance. Accordingly, every sale of a Metra 10-Ride Ticket and One-Way Tickets violates the ICFA…” DiVito asserts.
He says that, “in effect, sellers – like Metra – who set artificially short redemption periods are planning in advance to make money by not providing the very services for which buyers have paid in advance. By doing so, not only do profiteers like Metra get something for nothing, they also get to earn interest on the money buyers hand over to them for services never to be rendered.”
DiVito seeks punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, and an injunction preventing the sale of limited ride tickets with expiration dates of less than five years.
He is represented by Michael Aschenbrener of Aschenbrener Law.