On February 3, 2010, Chief Judge Gary L. Lancaster of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania preliminarily approved a class action settlement between Aramark Sports, LLC and a class of approximately 5,000 customers who made credit or debit card purchases from stores at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between March 24, 2009 and April 23, 2009. If approved at a final class action fairness hearing scheduled for April 5, 2010, the proposed settlement filed in Hanlon v. Aramark Sports, LLC, No. 09-cv-465 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 3, 2010), would resolve allegations made by the plaintiffs that Aramark violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act’s (“FACTA”) truncation requirements by electronically printing receipts that contained (a) more than the last 5 digits of the plaintiffs’ credit or debit card numbers and/or (b) the expiration date of such cards. See our posts here and here for information about cases alleging similar violations of FACTA’s truncation requirements.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, each class member will be offered a settlement relief voucher good for any one of the following: (a) $50 off a purchase of $100 or more, (b) a “classy” tee shirt with a suggested retail value of up to $40 or (c) a hooded sweatshirt (“hoodie”) with a suggested retail value of approximately $55. The voucher will be redeemable at any store in PNC Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Aramark has agreed that, if the settlement is approved, it will distribute not just those settlement relief vouchers claimed by members of the class, but a total of 4,773 vouchers – one for each electronically printed receipt alleged to have violated FACTA. To effectuate this requirement, beginning fifteen days after in-store notices to class members are removed, Aramark will distribute unclaimed vouchers to every customer who makes a purchase using a credit or debit card at PNC Park. Aramark will also be responsible for the costs of notifying class members regarding the settlement and paying class counsel’s fees of $105,000.
While coupon or voucher settlements are generally frowned upon by courts, Judge Lancaster acknowledged that such relief “appears well suited to the [FACTA] violations alleged, especially in light of the lack of actual damages.” The court’s acknowledgement lends credence to the denial of class certification, in, for example, Soualian v. International Coffee & Tea LLC, No. 07-cv-502 (RGK) (C.D. Cal. June 11, 2007), on account of the damages sought being disproportionate to the actual harm suffered by the class.