Retail Customers Obtain Unusually Favorable Settlement In Zip Code Collection Case

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On January 11, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved a settlement between a retailer and a class of customers to resolve allegations that the retailer violated the California Song-Beverly Credit Card Act by collecting customer zip codes as part of credit card purchase transactions and storing that information in a customer databases. Burdewick v. Kohl’s Dep’t Stores, Inc., No. 12-119, Final Order and Judgment (Jan. 11, 2013). The settlement is the most recent in a series following the California Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc. that zip codes constitute “personal identification information” under the Act. In this case, class members can submit claims to obtain a gift card from a common $650,000 fund. The exact amount of the gift card will depend upon the number of valid claims, but actual payments are expected to far exceed the $10-$20 amounts typically provided by most similar settlements to date. Moreover, the settlement places no restriction on the use or transferability of the cards. The court also approved a $215,000 award to class counsel, and a $7,500 incentive award to the class representative.