AG Spitzer May Sink Ferry Operator

January 12, 2005

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has notified the owners of the Canadian American Transportation Systems (CATS) of his intention to sue to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in refunds for consumers.

According to the AG’s office, CATS – the operator of the ferry, the “Spirit of the Ontario” – abruptly shut down operations between Rochester and Toronto in September 2004, after just three months of service. At that time, hundreds of consumers already had prepaid for ferry services.

“My office is seeking a court order directing the operators of the Fast Ferry to pay refunds to every consumer who prepaid for ferry services that were not provided,” Spitzer said.

Spitzer said that mediation efforts were successful in obtaining approximately $5,000 in refunds for nearly 50 consumers who had initially filed complaint forms with his office. Since the initial refunds were made, his office has reportedly received another 600 complaints. Spitzer’s office again contacted CATS in an effort to mediate these additional claims. To date, CATS has reportedly failed to provide refunds to those consumers.

Spitzer’s office intends to file a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Monroe County alleging that CATS has engaged in deceptive business practices, fraud and violations of other consumer protection laws enacted to protect the traveling public.

The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief, restitution of approximately $100,000, civil penalties for each violation and costs.

By law, CATS has five business days to respond before the Attorney General’s office can file the lawsuit.

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