Commitment Precision & Results - Jacksonville, Florida

Motorists Sue Over Ads Placed in Auto Registration Mailings

Associated Press Writer

JACKSONVILLE, FL (AP) -- Motorists are suing a subsidiary of Pitney Bowes for placing advertising inside automobile registrationpackets mailed to more than 2 million Florida car owners.Five motorists are listed as plaintiffs, but it could become more than two million or more if the class is certified as a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Imagitas Inc. used personal information it received from the Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles "to target and distribute advertising materials."Jacksonville attorney Norwood "Woody" Wilner told reporters Thursday that the use of motorists'' names and addresses for commercial purposes is a violation of the federal Driver''s Privacy and Protection Act. It was passed after the 1989 murder of TV actress Rebecca Schaeffer, whose stalker was able to track her down using motor vehicle records."This is a question of personal privacy and security," Wilner said.According to the lawsuit filed Aug. 1, federal law forbids the use of personal information for non-governmental purposes without the consent of the person identified by the information.Included in the information provided to Imagitas is the name and address of the motor vehicle owner and the type of registered vehicle.A Pitney Bowes spokeswoman said the Stamford, Conn. based company was working on a response to the lawsuit. Pitney Bowes acquired Imagitas in 2005.Frank Penela, a spokesman for the state motor vehicles division, said its contract with Imagitas allows the company to place advertising in the registration packets in return for printing and distributing registration renewals at no cost to the state.The state''s contract allows it to approve the advertisements and applies to all vehicle, vessel, mobile homes and parking placards.The mailings are estimated to total about 4.5 million a year.The state is working to make sure that all personal information is protected and he said the contract with Imagitas does not infringe on privacy laws, Penela said. Imagitas is not allowed to release any personal information to other firms.Marvin Rine, 38, a plaintiff and backhoe operator in Lake City, said at first he threw away his license renewal notice when he opened it up and "it was just a big wad of ads.""I know I don''t like getting junk mail with my official correspondence," he said.The suit is seeking is seeking compensatory damages of $2,500 for each person whose private information was obtained. Wilner''s office has already received information that more than 2 million Florida motorists were mailed packets with advertising.According to contracts obtained by the attorneys, it was up to tax collectors in individual counties whether they wished tocooperate with Imagitas.Imagitas also has similar deals with New York, Ohio, Minnesota and Missouri. Earlier this month, a $50 million settlement of a class-actionlawsuit was reached on behalf of about 500,000 Florida motorists with Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust Co. over the alleged illegal purchase of their motor vehicle records.Created: 8/17/2006 3:09:23 PMUpdated: 8/17/2006 4:54:47 PMEdited by Linda Mock, Online Manager

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