Dillard's to Give Gift Cards in Lawsuit Settlement The Stockton Record - August 30th, 2006 By Reed Fujii Record Staff Writer STOCKTON - Final settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Dillard's department store means up to 250,000 California customers may be eligible for a $20 gift card from the retailer. Approval of the settlement came Tuesday during a brief hearing before San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Lauren Thomasson, said James Lindsay, the Sacramento attorney who brought the suit on behalf of Stockton resident April Castaneda and others. "The court approved the settlement based upon its fairness and the fact that there were very few class members that excluded themselves from the settlement and none that objected to the settlement," he said. Affected consumers would have shopped at the department store between July 4, 2004, and July 8, 2005, and would have been asked to provide their home telephone number when using a non-Dillard's credit card. California law bars retailers from requiring such information. Dillard's will apparently handle claims for gift certificates itself. However, a reporter's calls to the retailer's corporate offices in Little Rock, Ark. - seeking comment about the lawsuit and information about the claims process - were not returned Tuesday afternoon. A consumer right's advocate applauded the settlement. "Privacy is very important to people," said Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California. "People don't want others to know more than what is required to transact business." State laws are intended to protect consumers against unwarranted intrusions, especially in an age when identity theft is of increasing concern. "The question I would ask is, 'Why does the business want that information?' " Holober said rhetorically. "Only because they want it for some purpose that would be intrusive on the customers." Lindsay said Dillard's customers who shopped at stores in Palmdale and El Centro, as well as in Stockton, are covered by the class-action suit. Nearly 120,000 people, including all those who previously received notices about the pending settlement, will be directly mailed a claim form, Lindsay said. Legal notices should be published shortly in newspapers in the affected communities, including The Record, providing information about how others covered by the class-action settlement also may file claims. "That's going to occur pretty quickly," Lindsay said. As the lead plaintiff, Castaneda will receive a $5,000 settlement payment, and her attorney's firm, Lindsay & Stonebarger, will collect $200,000 in legal fees and costs. That's not a lot of money compared with the potential $5 million payout from the settlement, Lindsay noted. "We try to do these things in a way that primarily benefits the consumers we believe have been harmed," he said. The Dillard's case arose July 5, 2005, when Stockton resident Castaneda swiped her credit card through the store's card reader and was prompted to punch in her telephone number. Lindsay said the retailer collected such telephone numbers to determine customer's home addresses for follow-up marketing and other potential purposes.
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