- - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Stores face lawsuits after ZIP code ruling

SAN FRANCISCO | Consumers have filed lawsuits against more than a dozen national retail chains operating in California since the state Supreme Court ruled it’s illegal for clerks to ask customers for their ZIP codes.

The high court unanimously ruled last week that a ZIP code is part of a customers’ address, and a state consumer privacy law forbids stores from requiring addresses during credit card transactions.

The decision against Williams-Sonoma Inc. set off a flurry of litigation, with most of the lawsuits being filed in San Francisco or Los Angeles courts.

Among the retailers facing lawsuits that seek class-action status are Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Macy’s Inc. and Cost Plus Inc. The lawsuits say the companies requested ZIP code information from their customers during the past year.

Attorney Mike Burns, who represents Michaels Stores Inc. in a ZIP code case, said it’s difficult to assess how much each lawsuit could cost each company. State law calls for maximum fines of $250 for the first violation and $1,000 for each additional one, exposing each company to millions of dollars of liability.

MONTANA

Amtrak train evacuated after threat

HELENA | An unruly passenger who was removed from an Amtrak train in northwestern Montana later made a threat that led to the train’s evacuation, an Amtrak official said Tuesday.

Nothing dangerous was found and passengers endured an 11-hour delay, arriving in Whitefish just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said a passenger was removed from the train in Browning shortly before 8:30 p.m. Monday. While being interviewed by local authorities, the man “somehow threatened the safety of the train.”

The train was stopped between Browning and East Glacier and its 150 passengers were taken to a middle school in Browning. A K-9 unit helped search the train.

Officials did not release the man’s name or say where he boarded the train, which travels from Chicago across northern North Dakota and Montana to Seattle and Portland, Ore.

PENNSYLVANIA

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