BELLEVILLE, IL--Ten plaintiffs from across the country, including one from West Virginia, filed a class action lawsuit against America Online (AOL) in the 20th Circuit Court of Illinois.

Linda Rubin of Charleston is among the complainants who charge that the Internet giant unlawfully collects extra fees.

She and David Wendt of Illinois, Mary Duessent of Bellflower, Calif., Andrew Sheldon of Carlsbad, Calif., Robert and Wendy Coffey and Patricia Webb of Tennessee, Vince Motley and Tapetha Spencer of Alabama and Terry Day of New York filed suit in St. Clair County, Ill. on Nov. 17.

"Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and a nationwide class of consumers who subscribed to AOL's Internet service and were assessed charges by AOL for AOL memberships accounts and goods and services they did not authorize or consent to pay," the suit states.

The plaintiffs claim AOL exploits its subscribers' confidential billing information to unlawfully generate additional revenue by charging for additional membership accounts.

They also allege that AOL has received hundreds of complaints from members who were charged extra--but "intentionally and recklessly" refuses to refund or credit money collected for unauthorized goods and services.

According to the plaintiffs, AOL's acts constitute unjust enrichment, conversion, violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

Though only one plaintiff is a resident of Illinois, the suit states that venue is proper in St. Clair County because transactions at issue occurred locally and that AOL does business in St. Clair.

AOL is headquartered in Dulles, Va.

The plaintiffs state that no individual recovery will exceed $75,000.

They are represented by David Nester of Belleville, Brooks Cutter and Stuart Talley of Sacramento, Calif., Daniel Girard and Allison Ehlert of San Francisco and James Smith of Tuscaloosa, Ala.

05 L 669 (20th Circuit)

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