The lawsuit was filed by three nonprofit groups in April 2016 in a federal court in Washington, D.C.. It says the government is violating the law by taking in more in fees from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system — commonly known as PACER — than is what is necessary to keep the electronic records system up and running. It also says millions of dollars that users pay in fees every year go to projects unrelated to accessing court records.
A federal judge in January certified a class of people and organizations who would be eligible to recoup money should the plaintiffs prevail and money be awarded.
Cleveland.com is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit and has taken no action to challenge PACER’s fees or how they are collected. The news organization was sent an email Tuesday with a notification that it was part of the class.
“The Court decided this lawsuit should be a class action on behalf of a ‘Class,’ or group of people that could include you,” the email says. “There is no money available now and no guarantee that there will be.”
PACER, which provides records to federal courts and bankruptcy cases, charges $0.10 a page. There are exceptions, such as for judicial opinions or for parties to cases.
The government has denied the claims outlined in the lawsuit, which seeks to recoup money that the plaintiffs say was improperly collected between April 2010 and April 2016.
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