The U.S. Supreme Court last month upheld a St. Clair couple’s class action suit against Tracker Marine Boat Center, a Bass Pro subsidiary, the Missourian reported.
Robert and Janet McKeage of St. Clair filed the class action suit against TMBC LLC in January 2009.
On May 21, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s award of more than $21.7 million. There were approximately 100,000 people who were part of the class action suit, according to the newspaper.
The McKeages filed the suit seeking damages for unlawful document fees in connection with purchases of boats, boat trailers and accessories or recreational vehicles since January 2004.
In May 2008, the couple was charged a $75 document fee when they purchased a boat from the Tracker Boat Center inside the Bass Pro Shop in St. Charles.
According to court records from the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the McKeages were unhappy with their purchase and contacted attorney David Baylard to rescind the sale, the newspaper reported.
After reviewing the contract, Baylard filed suit in the St. Charles County Circuit Court contending that the document fees violated state statute.
According to the McKeage suit, document fees are a separate charge often levied by banks and automobile and boat dealers for preparing legal documents involved in the transactions. Document fees are an “unauthorized practice of law in Missouri since the 1950s” because the legal documents are prepared by someone not licensed to practice law.
Baylard explained that Tracker Marine charged varying amounts in document fees to different customers depending on the number of items purchased and the total price of the items. The fees ranged from $25 to $150, or more, per customer.
The class action suit sought that illegal charges to customers be reimbursed, as well as triple damages as allowed by Missouri statute.
The plaintiffs appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court and the court agreed, noting that the Missouri law for standardized contracts is used nationwide.