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Brown v. Transurban USA. Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

November 2, 2015

JO-ANN BROWN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TRANSURBAN USA, INC., et al., Defendants

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          For Jo-Ann Brown, Mary Elise Pizarro, Michele Osborne, Plaintiffs: Bernard Joseph DiMuro, LEAD ATTORNEY, DiMuro Ginsberg PC, Alexandria, VA; Stephen Lybrook Neal, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, DiMuro Ginsberg PC, Alexandria, VA.

         For Duane Hale, Jocelyn Chase, Anna Stanfield, Rachel Amarti, Plaintiffs: Bernard Joseph DiMuro, DiMuro Ginsberg PC, Alexandria, VA.

         For Transurban USA, Inc., Capital Beltway Express, LLC, 95 Express Lanes, LLC, Defendants: Nathaniel Thomas Connally, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jon Myer Talotta, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP (VA), McLean, VA.

         For Faneuil, Inc., Defendant: Turner A. Broughton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brendan David O'Toole, Jonathan Tyler Lucier, Williams Mullen (Richmond), Richmond, VA.

         For Law Enforcement Systems, LLC, Defendant: Eric Christopher Rusnak, LEAD ATTORNEY, Amy Jo Eldridge, K & L Gates (DC), Washington, DC.

         For Transurban (USA) Operations, Inc., Defendant: Jon Myer Talotta, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP (VA), McLean, VA.

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         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         James C. Cacheris, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case involves Virginia's hotly contested " Public-Private" toll lane scheme. Plaintiffs in this case seek class action status, and are all users of the High-Occupancy Toll Roads operated by Defendants in Northern Virginia. This matter is before the Court on three motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, filed by (1) Defendants Transurban (USA), Inc., Transurban (USA) Operations, Inc., Capital Beltway Express, LLC, 95 Express Lanes, LLC (the " Transurban" Defendants) [Dkt. 41]; (2) Defendant Faneuil, Inc. (" Faneuil" ) [Dkt. 44]; and (3) Defendant Law Enforcements Systems, LLC (" LES" ) [Dkt. 49]. For the following reasons, the Court grants Transurban, Faneuil, and LES's motions with respect to Plaintiffs' substantive due process and unjust enrichment claims; grants Faneuil and LES's motions with respect to Plaintiffs' Maryland Consumer Protection Act and Virginia Consumer Protection Act claims; and denies Transurban, Faneuil, and LES's motions with respect to Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment, procedural due process, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and tortious interference with contract claims.

         I. Background

         At the motion to dismiss stage, the Court must read the amended complaint as a whole, construe the amended complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept the facts alleged in the amended complaint as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Thus, the following facts taken from the amended complaint are only accepted as true for purposes of the three motions now before the Court.

         Pursuant to the Public-Private Transportation Act (" PPTA" ),[1] passed by the

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Virginia General Assembly in 1995, Transurban contracted with the Commonwealth of Virginia to maintain and operate high-occupancy toll lanes (" HOT lanes" ) on the Capital Beltway, Interstate 495 (" I-495" ), which opened on November 17, 2012, and on Interstate 95 (" I-95" ) and Interstate 395 (" I-395" ), which opened on December 29, 2014. (Am. Compl. [Dkt. 36] ¶ ¶ 24-27.) The HOT lanes on I-495 are colloquially known as the " 495 Express Lanes" and the HOT lanes on I-95 and I-395 are colloquially known as the " 95 Express Lanes." ( Id. at ¶ 25.) Both the 495 Express Lanes and the 95 Express Lanes collect HOT lane tolls through the use of an E-ZPass transponder mounted on the inside of the vehicle's windshield, which is linked to the driver's bank account or credit card; no cash toll booths are offered and instead, an E-ZPass transponder is required. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 26-27.) HOT lane prices on the 495 Express Lanes and the 95 Express Lanes vary dynamically " according to real-time traffic conditions: the more drivers using the HOT Lanes, the more expensive the toll, and vise-versa." ( Id. at ¶ 26.) When an E-ZPass account is out of money to pay tolls, the bank account or credit card is automatically charged to reload the E-ZPass account. ( Id. at ¶ 27.) An E-ZPass account can become inadequately funded if the linked credit card expires or is otherwise cancelled. ( Id. at ¶ 59.)

         A. Virginia's HOT Lanes Law

         Virginia law governs the creation of HOT lanes (hereinafter collectively referred to as the " HOT lanes law" ). (Am. Compl. ¶ 42 (citing Va. Code Ann. § § 33.2-502, 503).) The operator of a motor vehicle " shall make arrangements with the HOT lanes operator for payment of the required toll prior to entering such HOT lanes." Va. Code Ann. § 33.2-503. Failure to make such arrangements, i.e., failure to pay the required toll, violates Virginia law and such a violation is subject to civil penalties, including payment of the unpaid toll, fines, fees, and costs. Id. Enforcement of this statutory provision is accomplished by issuance of a summons for a civil violation,[2] which can occur one of two ways.

         First, if a law-enforcement officer observes an HOT lane violation, the officer may execute a summons for the violation. Va. Code Ann. § 33.2-503(1). Second, a summons may be executed if a violation is evidenced by information obtained from a photo-enforcement system, which the HOT lane operator is required to install and operate at all toll-collection locations. Id. § § 33.2-503(2)(a)-(b). " A certificate, sworn to or affirmed by a technician employed or authorized by the HOT lanes operator, or a facsimile of such certificate, based on inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotapes, or other recorded

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images produced by a photo-enforcement system, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein." Id. § 33.2-503(2)(b). This second enforcement mechanism, whereby a summons is issued based on evidence obtained from a photo-enforcement system, is the enforcement mechanism primarily at issue in this litigation.

         The summons shall provide the registered owner of the vehicle with " reasonable notice" that the vehicle was used in violation of this statute, and provide " notice of the time and place of the hearing and notice of the civil penalty and costs for such offense." Va. Code Ann. § 33.2-503(2)(d). The HOT lanes operator may impose an administrative fee in addition to the unpaid toll, " so as to recover the expenses of collecting the unpaid toll, [but the] administrative fee shall be reasonably related to the actual cost of collecting the unpaid toll." Id. § 33.2-503(3)(a). The summons shall contain an option for the driver or registered owner of the vehicle to prepay the unpaid toll and all penalties, administrative fees, and costs. Id. § 33.2-503(2)(c). If the operator of the vehicle pays the administrative fee and unpaid tolls within 30 days of notification, the administrative fee shall not exceed $25. Id. § 33.2-503(3)(a). Otherwise, the administrative fee shall not exceed $100. Id. If the operator of the vehicle contests the violation but a court of competent jurisdiction[3] finds that the operator of the vehicle did violate the statute, the court shall impose a civil penalty payable to the HOT lanes operator as follows: " for a first time offense, $50; for a second offense, $250; for a third offense within a period of two years of the second offense, $500; and for a fourth and subsequent offense within a period of three years of the second offense, $1,000, together with, in each case, the unpaid toll, all accrued administrative fees imposed by the HOT lanes operator . . . and applicable court costs." Id. § 33.2-503(3)(b). Failure to pay the required penalties, fees, and costs can result in suspension of the operator's vehicle registration and license. Id. § 33.2-503(3)(c).

         B. Defendants' Alleged Enforcement Procedure

         As the HOT lanes operator, Transurban enforces civil violations[4] of the HOT lanes law and attempts to collect payment for unpaid tolls by providing notice to the registered operator of the motor vehicle. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 45, 59.) Once an alleged " violation" occurs, the operator of the motor vehicle does not immediately receive notice of the infraction. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 57-58.) Instead, an operator of a motor vehicle in violation of the HOT lanes law " may not find out for months (or even over a year)" until Transurban mails the notice or summons. ( Id. at ¶ 58.) " If a driver somehow 'knows' that she has committed a toll violation, within 5 days of that violation, she

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can pay the toll and a[n administrative] fee of $1.50 per trip through the 'Missed a Toll' process on Defendant Transurban's website." ( Id. at ¶ 60.) Otherwise, the unknowing violator will not become aware of the violation until Transurban issues a notice through the mail. ( Id. )

         Specifically, Transurban will first mail an " unpaid toll notice" to the registered owner of the motor vehicle requesting payment of the unpaid tolls, plus a $12.50 administrative fee that is assessed for each violation (hereinafter " the first notice" ). (Am. Compl. ¶ 60.) The first notice requests payment or notice that the driver disputes the violation within 30 days. ( Id. ) If the toll remains unpaid after 30 days, Transurban issues a " final toll invoice" that requests payment of the unpaid tolls, plus a $25 administrative fee for each violation (hereinafter " the final notice" ). ( Id. at ¶ 61; see also Transurban's Mem. [Dkt. 42] Ex. C.) The final notice requests payment within 30 days and states that Transurban will refer any failure to pay to its debt collection agency, LES. ( Id. ) Transurban takes " no efforts to ensure or confirm that the invoices they mail actually reach their intended recipients . . . even when these invoices are returned as undeliverable." (Am. Compl. ¶ 71.) If Transurban refers the account for debt collection, LES will issue a collection notice to the driver that requests payment of the unpaid tolls, plus a $100 administrative fee for each violation (" the collection notice" ). ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 74-84.) " LES regularly tells consumers in correspondence that 'this is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose' and/or that the communication is from a debt collector." ( Id. at ¶ 75.) LES attempts to make debt validation disclosures in the collection notice pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA" ), but " does not comply with the FDCPA in several respects." ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 77-84 (alleging that LES fails to identify the creditor, Transurban, fails to include any of the statutory disclosures, and falsely represents the character and amount of the debt).)

         If the toll is still unpaid, Transurban engages the services of Faneuil, which initiates collection lawsuits by executing a summons through first-class mail to the registered owner of the motor vehicle. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 3, 85.) Either Transurban or Faneuil issues " electronically-produced summonses robo-signed by machines. They do not issue summonses sworn to or affirmed by humans, as required by Virginia law." ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 86, 88-89, 118.) Moreover, it is alleged that Transurban or Faneuil issues summonses that " include an identical pre-printed signature, placed and proportioned on the forms in the same manner for all summonses." ( Id. at ¶ 89.) And in some cases, Transurban or Faneuil issues summonses more than one year after the purported toll violation, in violation of Virginia law. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 92-94.) Plaintiffs also allege that Transurban has failed to appear in court, but instead sends a non-lawyer independent contractor for Faneuil to make court appearances. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 95-96 (" Defendant Transurban sent Alexis Brach (a non-lawyer) to appear on its behalf. Because Ms. Brach is an independent contractor for Defendant Faneuil, [the court] ruled she could not and cannot represent the Transurban Defendants in court." ).)

         On October 27, 2014, approximately two years after the opening of the 495 Express Lanes and prior to the opening of the 95 Express Lanes, Transurban announced the implementation of a " First-Time Forgiveness" program for HOT lane violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ 97.) This program includes:

(a) If a consumer contacts Defendant Transurban within 60 days of toll violation, the company will remove automatically-assessed

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administrative fees, where toll violation arose from insufficient funds in an E-ZPass account, failure to link a license plate to the E-ZPass account or an incorrectly mounted E-ZPass;
(b) In the event that Defendant Transurban sends an E-ZPass customer an invoice and the letter is returned with an unknown address, Defendant Transurban will send the invoice to a debt collection agency but will waive all fees if the customer contacts it and provide[s] evidence the customer has resolved the account issues with E-ZPass and has paid his tolls; and
(c) Defendant Transurban will continue to collect through court action, but " will put a cap on the number of trips sent to court and pursue a maximum of $2,220 (which includes the administrative fee civil penalties), plus tolls and court fees, regardless of the number of violations.

( Id. ) Plaintiffs allege that this new policy nonetheless fails to resolve the problem of " excessive, illegal, and unreasonable fees and fines" for various reasons. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 98-102.)

         C. Class Representatives

         Seven individual Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit against Defendants and claim, generally, that they were assessed massive fees and penalties for minor toll violations on the 495 Express Lanes and 95 Express Lanes that were unreasonable and improper. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 109-219.) At all relevant times, each Plaintiff had previously signed up for an E-ZPass account,[5] his or her E-ZPass transponder was mounted on the windshield of the vehicle, and the E-ZPass account was linked to a valid payment method for automatic replenishment.[6] (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 109, 124, 138, 152, 175, 191, 204.) Each Plaintiff also alleges that at the time he or she entered the HOT lanes, no indication was given that the E-Z Pass was unread or maintained an insufficient balance. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 111, 126, 140, 154, 177, 193, 206.) Moreover, each Plaintiff alleges that any eventual summons he or she received was " signed" by an automated computer program, in violation of Virginia law. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 119, 133, 147, 159, 186, 199, 214.) Each Plaintiff, and the facts specific to his or her claim, is summarized briefly below.

         1. Plaintiff Jo-Ann Brown

         Between October 4 and October 12, 2013, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Jo-Ann Brown (" Brown" ) violated the HOT lanes law on five separate occasions, totaling $4.15 in toll violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 110-114.) Brown did not receive notice of the toll violations until sixty (60) days later, when she received a letter from " 495 Express Lanes" stating that she owed $4.15 in tolls and $100 in administrative fees. ( Id. at ¶ 115.) Brown protested but nonetheless agreed to pay the amount due, but 495 Express Lanes declined to accept Brown's payment. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 116-117.) In October of 2014, Transurban served Brown with several summonses, which indicated that it was seeking $3,413.75 in total as a result of the $4.15 cumulative toll violation. ( Id. at ¶ 118 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed a $100 administrative fee and $72 in costs for each of the five toll violations. ( Id. ) The first toll violation was accompanied by a $50 civil penalty; the second toll violation

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was accompanied by a $250 civil penalty; and the third toll violation was accompanied by a $500 civil penalty; and the fourth and fifth toll violations were each accompanied by a separate $1,000 civil penalty. ( Id. ) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Brown had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees, and no judgment has been entered against her to date. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 122-123.)

         2. Plaintiff Anna Stanfield

         Between June 18 and July 3, 2013, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Anna Stanfield (" Stanfield" ) violated the HOT lanes law on ten separate occasions, totaling $32.70 in toll violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 126-128.) In October of 2014, Transurban served Stanfield with several summonses, which indicated that it was seeking $8,380.70 in total as a result the total $32.70 toll violation. ( Id. at ¶ 129 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed a $100 administrative fee and $72 in costs for each of the ten toll violations. ( Id. ) And as with Brown, Transurban assessed escalating civil penalties, starting at $50 for the first violation, rising to $250 for the second violation, $500 for the third violation, and $1,000 for each of the subsequent violations. ( Id. ) Transurban issued all of the summonses more than one year after the date of the purported toll violations. ( Id. at ¶ 134.) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Stanfield had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees. ( Id. at ¶ 135.) After receiving the summonses, Stanfield contacted Transurban, and after feeling enormous pressure to resolve the matter, Stanfield was pressured into paying Transurban $2,200. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 136-137.)

         3. Plaintiff Rachel Amarti

         Between June 3 and July 22, 2013, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Rachel Amarti (" Amarti" ) violated the HOT lanes law on twenty-six separate occasions, with total toll violations in excess of $100. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 139-142.) In 2014, Transurban served Amarti with several summonses, which indicated that it was seeking over $25,000 as a result these toll violations. ( Id. at ¶ 143 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed a $100 administrative fee and $72 in costs[7] for each of the ten toll violations. ( Id. ) And as with Brown and Stanfield, Transurban assessed escalating civil penalties, starting at $50 for the first violation, rising to $250 for the second violation, $500 for the third violation, and $1,000 for each of the subsequent violations. ( Id. ) Transurban issued all of the summonses more than one year after the date of the purported toll violations. ( Id. at ¶ 148.) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Amarti had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees. ( Id. at ¶ 149.) After receiving the summonses, Amarti contacted Transurban, and after feeling enormous pressure to resolve the matter, Amarti was pressured into paying Transurban $3,600. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 150-151.)

         4. Plaintiff Mary Elise Pizarro

         Between May 8 and May 28, 2013, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Mary Elise Pizarro (" Pizarro" ) violated the HOT lanes law on seven separate occasions, totaling $20.50 in toll violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 153-156.) Pizarro received additional notices of violations in July. ( Id. at ¶ 156.) Pizarro first received notice of purported toll violations one month after

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the alleged violation, when she received four " Final Notices" stating that she owed tolls and associated fees. ( Id. at ¶ 157.) Pizarro regularly used the 495 Express Lanes to commute to and from work, but the invoices indicated violations for only part of a round trip, allegedly a clear indication that some sort of equipment failure was to blame for the violations. ( Id. at ¶ 158.) Pizarro immediately contacted Transurban to challenge the violations, and the Transurban representative stated that the toll violations may have resulted from how the E-ZPass transponder was mounted on the windshield. ( Id. at ¶ 159.) Pizarro requested that Transurban debit the toll amounts from her E-ZPass account and understood that the tolls and fees would be assessed in this manner. ( Id. ) After this telephone call, Pizarro received two additional " Final Notices" from Transurban. ( Id. at ¶ 160.) Pizarro immediately disputed these and all other violations on the Transurban website. ( Id. at ¶ 161.)

         On July 18, 2013, Transurban e-mailed Pizarro and denied her request due to insufficient funds, even though Pizarro maintained a sufficient balance on her E-ZPass account. (Am. Compl. ¶ 162.) In January of 2014, Pizarro ceased using the 495 Express Lanes and closed her account. ( Id. at ¶ 163.) Shortly thereafter, E-ZPass refunded her approximately $83, which was the positive balance on her account. ( Id. at ¶ 164.) In September of 2014, Transurban served Pizarro with ten summonses, which indicated that it was seeking $9,440.90 for ten purported toll violations totaling approximately $20. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 165-166 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed a $100 administrative fee and $72 in costs for each of the ten toll violations. ( Id. ) And as with the previously mentioned Plaintiffs, Transurban assessed escalating civil penalties, starting at $50 for the first violation, rising to $250 for the second violation, $500 for the third violation, and $1,000 for each of the subsequent violations. ( Id. ) Transurban issued all of the summonses more than one year after the date of the purported toll violations. ( Id. at ¶ 170.) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Pizarro had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees. ( Id. at ¶ 171.) After receiving the summonses, Pizarro contacted Transurban, and after feeling enormous pressure to resolve the matter, Pizarro was pressured into paying Transurban $1,513.90.[8] ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 172-174.)

         5. Plaintiff Duane Hale

         Between July 6 and November 11, 2013, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Duane Hale (" Hale" ) violated the HOT lanes law on sixteen separate occasions, totaling $30.65 in toll violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 176-179.) Hale received notices demanding payment for unpaid tolls, despite having a positive balance on his E-ZPass account, and promptly disputed these initial notices but Transurban " persisted." ( Id. at ¶ 181.) In October of 2014, Transurban served Hale with sixteen summonses, which indicated that it was seeking over $15,000 for toll violations totaling $30.65. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 182-183 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed a $100 administrative fee and $72 in costs for each of the sixteen toll violations. ( Id. ) And as with the previously mentioned Plaintiffs,

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Transurban assessed escalating civil penalties, starting at $50 for the first violation,[9] rising to $250 for the second violation, $500 for the third violation, and $1,000 for each of the subsequent violations. ( Id. ) Transurban issued all of the summonses more than one year after the date of the purported toll violations. ( Id. at ¶ 187.) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Hale had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees. ( Id. at ¶ 171.) Hale had a court date in Fairfax County General District Court on March 16, 2014 at which all of the summonses were " null processed." ( Id. at ¶ 189.) No judgment has been entered against Hale to date. ( Id. at ¶ 190.)

         6. Plaintiff Michelle Osborne

         Between November 13 and November 21, 2013, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Michelle Osborne (" Osborne" ) violated the HOT lanes law on four separate occasions, totaling $16.75 in toll violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 192-196.) Four months later, Osborne first received notice of the purported violations through a " Demand for Payment and Credit Bureau Warning Letter" from LES, stating that she owed $312.20 for three toll violations. ( Id. at ¶ 197.) In December of 2014, Transurban served Osborne with summonses, which indicated that it was seeking $2,293.30 for toll violations totaling $16.75. ( Id. at ¶ 198 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed a $100 administrative fee and $77 in costs for each of the four toll violations. ( Id. ) And as with the prior Plaintiffs, Transurban also assessed escalating civil penalties, starting at $50 for the first violation, rising to $250 for the second violation, $500 for the third violation, and $1,000 for the fourth violation. ( Id. ) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Osborne had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees. ( Id. at ¶ 202.) No judgment has been entered against Osborne to date. ( Id. at ¶ 203.)

         7. Plaintiff Jocelyn Chase

         Between June 23 and September 4, 2014, Transurban determined that Plaintiff Jocelyn Chase (" Chase" ) violated the HOT lanes law on twenty-nine separate occasions, totaling $30.95 in toll violations. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 205-209.) Chase did not receive a notice until more than two months after the first purported toll violation, when she received an " Unpaid Toll Invoice" letter from Capital Beltways Express, LLC. ( Id. at ¶ 210.) Between September and November of 2014, Chase received a total of six of these " Unpaid Toll Invoice" letters seeking payment for twenty-three of the twenty-nine toll violations, but never received this initial notice for six of the violations. ( Id. ) The first time Chase received notice of these six additional violations was on March 3, 2015, when LES sent a credit bureau warning letter for two of the violations, and on December 11, 2014, when LES sent a notice of assignment on the remaining four violations. ( Id. at ¶ 211.) By March 3, 2015, LES was seeking a total of $1,817.85 for eighteen alleged toll violations, but by the time LES reported these violations to the credit bureaus, the total had grown to $1,919.10. ( Id. at ¶ 212.) On May 25, 2015, Transurban served Chase with summonses, which indicated that it was seeking $2,512.10 for only four toll violations totaling $4.10. ( Id. at ¶ 213 (breaking down the administrative fee, cost amount, and civil penalty sought for each violation).) Transurban assessed

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a $100 administrative fee and $77 in costs for each of the four toll violations. ( Id. ) And just as with the prior Plaintiffs, Transurban also assessed escalating civil penalties, starting at $50 for the first violation, rising to $100 for the second violation, $250 for the third violation, and $500 for the fourth violation. ( Id. ) Prior to the issuance of the summons, Chase had no meaningful or adequate means to contest the fines and fees. ( Id. at ¶ 217.) Chase had a court date in Fairfax County General District Court on June 24, 2015, but no judgment has been entered against her to date. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 218-219.)

         D. Claims Raised in the Amended Complaint

         The seven individual Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[10] (Am. Compl. ¶ 220.) Plaintiffs set forth eight claims for relief, and ultimately ask the Court to (1) declare Defendants' fee policies and collection methods to be wrongful, unfair, and unconscionable, and enjoin any such future collections; (2) order restitution of fees and penalties paid by Plaintiffs to Defendants; (3) order disgorgement of ill-gotten gains derived from Defendants' conduct; (4) award actual damages; (5) award punitive and exemplary damages; and (6) award pre-judgment interest and costs as applicable. ( Id. at ¶¶ 235-312.) Specifically, Plaintiffs, by their applicable classes, bring the following claims against the following Defendants, which have been grouped into three categories for ease.

         1. Constitutional Claims against only Transurban

         Claims One, Two, and Three, brought only against the Transurban Defendants, allege that Transurban has violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the United States Constitution, and the Virginia Constitution. Specifically, in Claim One, Plaintiffs allege that Transurban violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by levying excessive fines in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 235-241.) Separately, Claim One also sets forth a violation of Article I, Section 9 of the Virginia Constitution,[11] which also prohibits excessive bail and excessive fines. ( Id. ) In Claim Two, Plaintiffs again allege a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but based upon alleged infringements of their procedural due process rights under the Fifth

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and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. And again, separately, Plaintiffs also allege a violation of Article I, Section 11 of the Virginia Constitution. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 242-248.) In Claim Three, also brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiffs allege that Transurban violated their substantive due process rights by collecting excessive and unreasonable fees and penalties, contrary to Virginia law and to Plaintiffs' contract with the non-party E-ZPass entities. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 249-257.)

         2. State Law Claims against All Defendants

         Plaintiffs assert four claims under state law against all named Defendants. In Claim Four, entitled " Unjust Enrichment," Plaintiffs allege that all Defendants knowingly received and retained wrongful benefits as a result of their wrongful conduct in conscious disregard of Plaintiffs' rights. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 258-267.) In Claim Six, Maryland Plaintiffs allege that all Defendants violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code, Com. Law § § 13-101, et seq., by engaging in unlawful, unfair, and deceptive trade practices. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 272-282.) Similarly, in Claim Seven, Virginia Plaintiffs allege that all Defendants violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, Va. Code Ann. § § 59.1-196, et seq., by engaging in unlawful, unfair, and deceptive trade practices. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 283-296.) And in Claim Eight, entitled " Tortious Interference with Contract," Plaintiffs allege that all Defendants knowingly interfered with Plaintiffs' contractual relationship with the E-ZPass entities under the E-ZPass contracts. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 297-312.)

         3. FDCPA Claim against only Collection Defendants

         Lastly, in Claim Five, Plaintiffs allege that Faneuil and LES, the Collection Defendants, violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA" ) by making false and misleading representations, and by engaging in unfair and abusive debt collection practices in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. (Am. Compl. ¶ 269.) Plaintiffs also allege that the Collection Defendants attempted to collect knowingly excessive and inflated fines and fees in violation of 15 U.S.C. § § 1692e(2), 1692f(1). ( Id. at ¶ 270.)

         E. Motions Now ...


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