A ruling by Division Three of the Washington State Court of Appeals might be worth reviewing for those not only in the state but elsewhere as the opinion demonstrates an interpretation of the federal Truth in Lending Act governing credit card liability of consumers. It could also affect at least in Washington whether to charge a defendant with a financial crime or the possession of stolen property due to a Federal Reserve Board opinion that could affect charging elements resulting from the theft of a CardLock access device.
In Connell Oil, Inc. v. McConnell-Johnson, Appellants “The Marital Community of Erik and Jackie McConnell Johnson” appealed a trial court ruling favorable to plaintiff Washington Corporation “Connell Oil, Inc.” after the oil company demanded damages and attorney fees amounting to $34,649.68 resulting from the fraudulent use of the Johnson’s petroleum CardLock access card after the device was stolen from one of Mr. Johnson’s farm vehicles. Defendants claimed that they were not fully liable for the unauthorized charges under the federal Truth in Lending Act which ordinarily protects consumers from fraudulent credit card charges.
The Court “conclude[d] the trial court did not err when it ruled that the stolen cardlock was not a credit card for purposes of TILA and entered judgment in favor of Connell Oil.” Connell Oil received an award of attorney and legal fees as it was the prevailing party.