She Didn't Mind Paying the 60-Cent Toll. But the Extra Buck Made Her Call a Lawyer.

Courthouse News brings us the interestingish case of Mary Kemp v. the Texas Department of Transportation over ... one dollar. Our story starts on November 4, 2007. The Wichita Falls resident was on State Highway 121 -- the Sam Rayburn -- and about to take the Denton Tap Road exit near Coppell when she realized she didn't have any change for the toll. Nor did she have a TollTag. So, according to her lawsuit filed Monday in Dallas federal court, "she decided to pay for use of the tollway through the video toll." Only, she thought she would just get a 60-cent hit; instead, "she was also charged a $1.00 invoice fee that was not disclosed to her at any point during the use of the tollway or when she exited the tollway."

Kemp and her attorney, Thomas Corea, are looking for all comers with similar complaints; they want this sucker to turn into a class action. Because they insist the ZipCash option -- which, at least back in '07, no one bothered to pay anyway -- goes against the Texas Constitution: "Defendants lack the statutory authority to charge the fee." Furthermore, they insist, TxDOT and TexasTollways -- the North Texas Tollway Authority is not named nor ever mentioned in the suit -- "only have the authority to charge fees to individuals that establish a toll tag account, which Ms. Kemp did not do." I wouldn't chuck that TollTag out the window just yet, but as the Startlegram reminded earlier this month, Kemp could probably find a few folks willing to jump into her suit.

Update at 10:32 a.m.: Sherita Coffelt, spokesperson for the NTTA, says the reason it's not named in the lawsuit is because it didn't take control of State Highway 121 till September 2008. It became the Rayburn in May of this year.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky