Tens of thousands of Florida motorists will get compensation under a $50 million class-action settlement approved this week over the alleged illegal purchase of their motor vehicle records by a bank from the state government.
U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley accepted the settlement between motorists and West Palm Beach-based Fidelity Federal Bank and Trust. The motorists will receive $160 each under the settlement.
The bank allegedly violated federal anti-stalking legislation, which prohibits companies from buying driver records from state governments, when it purchased the records of 565,000 motorists, The Palm Beach Post reported.
Hurley said it was “shocking” that the state sold the data in spite of a federal law that prohibited it.
A message left after hours Thursday by The Associated Press at Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust was not immediately returned.
The affected motorists live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Broward counties. Between 2000 and 2003 the bank paid the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles a penny a name for the names and addresses of motorists, who had recently bought cars and used the information to send out send brochures advertising auto loans.
Attorneys alleged the bank violated the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act in obtaining the names. The law was passed after the 1989 murder of TV actress Rebecca Schaeffer, whose stalker was able to track her down using motor vehicle records. The law allows for penalties of up to $2,500 per violation.
The $50 million settlement includes $10 million in attorneys fees that would be shared by Geller’s firm, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, and three other firms.
Information from: The Palm Beach Post, http:// WWW.PBPOST.COM
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