A consumer class action lawsuit against a provider of vehicle history reports is pending in the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas. The case is West v. Carfax, Inc. , Trumbull County Case No. 04-CV-1898. For a claim form, copy of the proposed settlement order, notice to consumers and more information go to: West v. Carfax Settlement Website . The docket can be viewed at the Trumbull County Case Search.
Carfax.com provides vehicle history reports on used cars for a fee. The information comes from title checks and other sources. The reports show if the car has ever been in an accident, flood or fire; odometer problems or whether the car is a buyback/lemon. The report shows the type of owner (individual, fleet, rental car, leased, taxi, police) but does not provide the names of previous owners.
Carfax was sued because while their database used to contain complete information from all fifty states, they lost access to complete police accident records from 22 states and the District of Columbia from the National Crime Insurance Bureau database in 1998. Consumers were never told that some crashes from these states may not appear in the database. See Deal in Carfax Lawsuit Draws Fire by David Shepardson, The Boston Globe, Apr. 16, 2007.
A tentative settlement has been approved in the case, where customers would get $20.00 off an auto inspection and receive free and discounted Carfax reports over the next three years. Public Citizen objects to the settlement, because vehicle inspections typically cost $100, a consumer may not need Carfax reports over the next three years, and inadequate notice was sent to customers. The judge is considering Public Citizen's objections at a May 11 hearing.