Class action lawsuit alleges illegal toll collection in Orange County, Calif.

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, May 27, 2016

A California man has filed a class action lawsuit against California’s Transportation Corridor Agencies for illegally issuing toll fees. The lawsuit alleges toll roads are not clearly marked, resulting in motorists unknowingly traveling on toll roads. 

Attorneys for Ebrahim Mahda accuse TCA of operating toll roads that mislead the public, which is against California law. Specifically, the lawsuit claims the roads are poorly marked, and unsuspecting motorists are subject to “improper and unlawful fines” since their vehicles are not equipped with FasTrak transponders.

 Once a motorist drives on a toll road, TCA mails a “Notice of Toll Evasion” to the driver within five days, according to court documents. Attorneys for the plaintiff say failure to pay toll evasions in a timely manner are subject to substantial penalties “over and above” the initial amount. Penalties are imposed after 30 days of the original notice. 

The lawsuit alleges that “there is virtually no signage visible to drivers that clearly indicates” they are entering a tolled road that requires FasTrak. Plaintiff’s attorneys say drivers have a reasonable expectation that there will be an option to pay via cash or credit card considering there is no warning suggesting the contrary. 

Mahda was driving on Route 73 on Catalina View South Lane 13 on Nov. 26, 2015, and again in the north lane on Nov. 28. He later received a Notice of Toll Evasion with an issue date of Dec. 10, 2015, with fines of $6 for each violation and penalties of $57.50 if not paid by Jan. 9, 2016. Mahda paid a total of $232 on May 12. 

The lawsuit accuses TCA of negligent misrepresentation/omission, unjust enrichment and unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts or practices. In addition to restitution, plaintiff’s attorneys are seeking for TCA to end its current collection system as defined in the lawsuit and engage in a corrective advertising campaign. 

TCA operates and collects tolls for State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261, which makes up 20 percent of Orange County’s highway system. Caltrans owns and maintains the roads, whereas California Highway Patrol is responsible for law enforcement. 

TCA provided Land Line with the following statement: 

The Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) policy is to not comment specifically on pending litigation; however, we are confident our policies and procedures comply with all applicable laws and regulations. 

TCA is the government agency that oversees the operations of The Toll Roads, a 51-mile toll network in Orange County, that make up State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261. All tolls are paid electronically. 

Although cash is no longer collected on The Toll Roads in Orange County, drivers can continue to use The Toll Roads and pay their toll within five days after driving the roads using our One-Time-Toll online feature at TheTollRoads.com

The highways have always included advance notification signs alerting drivers when and where The Toll Road begins. And when we implemented all-electronic-tolling, we installed more than 400 roadway signs on The Toll Roads including information for drivers without a pre-established FasTrak or ExpressAccount to pay tolls online using One-Time Toll within five days after their trip at TheTollRoads.com.

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