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Transit authority overcharged customers, lawsuit says

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Pikepass customers have been overcharged for more than a decade, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County District Court.

The lawsuit, filed in July 2002 and amended in October, could affect more than 400,000 Oklahomans.

The complaint alleges the Oklahoma Transportation Authority, since 1991, has collected anywhere from $30 million to $60 million by overcharging customers, said Joe White, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The overcharges are alleged to have happened because of a glitch in the way a Pikepass electronic readers registers trip data.

The glitch, called a ``force match transmission,'' shows up on a customer's bill as a trip where they entered and left the turnpike at the same toll station, which is impossible.

Instead, customers are billed as if they had traveled the maximum distance from the point of entry to the end of the turnpike.

White said an Oklahoma Transportation Authority official has acknowledged the agency knew about the faulty transactions from the beginning.

Attorneys have argued that the transportation authority should have notified customers about the overcharges or at least charged the minimum possible distance.

A spokeswoman for the authority said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

A similar lawsuit filed by four plaintiffs in Creek County District Court, seeks repayment of all overcharges.

The Oklahoma County lawsuit is making its way toward a court date. In April 2003, Oklahoma County Presiding District Judge Noma Gurich granted the lawsuit class-action status.

The authority appealed and the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals upheld Gurich's decision in March.

White said he is trying to determine how many people are affected.

``There's still some documentation out there that we need to shore up the damage number,'' White said. ``But we think the number is fairly significant.''
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