Court Rules that Expiration of Public Transit Passes is Legal

Lubin Austermuehle prosecutes consumer protection class-action lawsuits on a regular basis, and in order to best serve our present and future clients, we are always mindful of new Illinois cases in the field. Howard v. Chicago Transit Authority is a consumer rights decision from the Appellate Court of Illinois that our attorneys found in the course of their research.

Howard v. Chicago Transit Authority is a case between those who ride public transportation in Chicago and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Initially, the named Plaintiff started the litigation because of Defendant CTA’s policy of allowing the transit cards needed to ride on Defendant’s transit system to expire one year after the cards are issued. The named Plaintiff had purchased such a card, and when that card expired, he lost the remaining balance on his card. After discovering that he had lost the money on the card, Plaintiff filed a putative class-action lawsuit, alleging violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Defendant then filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted by the trial court. Plaintiffs then appealed the lower court’s dismissal.

The Appellate Court reviewed the trial court’s dismissal de novo and examined the reasoning used by the lower court’s decision. The case was dismissed by the trial court because Defendant successfully argued that Plaintiff’s claims could not stand due to the terms and conditions of the card. These terms and conditions clearly stated that the transit card had an expiration date and could not be redeemed for cash, replaced, or refunded. Additionally, upon purchase of the transit card, the Court held that Plaintiff had entered into a valid contract of carriage and therefore Defendant had committed no wrongful conduct. Plaintiff claimed that the terms and conditions of the card referred only to the use of the card itself and not the use of money placed on the card. The Court disagreed and upheld the trial court’s ruling that use of the card was part and parcel of using the money on the card. The Court went on to state that “the terms on a fare pass are incorporated into the carrier’s contract for carriage and are enforceable as written.” Thus, because the contract for carriage contained the expiration clause and Plaintiffs accepted those terms, the contract was valid and the suit was properly dismissed.

Lubin Austermuehle has a team of attorneys who focus on consumer rights class action lawsuits and who have successfully handled many such disputes. Our Chicago consumer rights lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during large-scale litigation, and we know the laws that govern consumer rights cases well. Lubin Austermuehle is based in Chicago, and represents many clients who have been the victim of fraud or misrepresentation. If you believe that your consumer rights have been violated, contact one of our Elgin consumer rights attorneys by phone at 1 630-333-0333, or through our online form.

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