Natural Gas Prices In Midwest Could Jump Over 70% After Katrina

Northern Illinois residents are challenging natural gas distributor – Nicor Gas – in a class action suit that alleges the company misrepresented to customers the benefits of its gas-line insurance program, known as ComfortGuard, for which they paid a $60 annual fee.

The utility recorded millions of phone calls over the course of a decade and plans to “divulge them outside of Nicor and to use them in court as they litigate the consumer class action,” according to a statement about the case.

“In this age of heightened concerns about data breaches and consumer privacy, Nicor’s knowing and intentional aim to disclose statutorily protected information is particularly troubling,” notes plaintiffs’ lawyer, Adam Levitt, head of the consumer practice group at law firm Grant & Eisenhofer.  “The Illinois Eavesdropping Act flatly prohibits corporations who collect or make such recordings from divulging any part of them to any third party and prohibits such recordings be used in court proceedings,” said Levitt.

“Nicor Gas claims that all customers recorded heard a ‘warning’ before being recorded, and ‘consented’ by remaining on the line after the warning was given.  But under the law, any consent only gave Nicor Gas a right to record, not to divulge or use the recordings. Any ‘consent’ they got from customers that permitted them to record was for the limited purpose of internal quality assurance – not for divulgence to outside parties, and certainly not for use in public court proceedings,” according to Levitt.

The case is styled as: Thodos et al v. Nicor, Inc., et al, Case No. 11-CH-06556, and court arguments will be made before Judge Mary L. Mikva in the Circuit Court of Cook County (Richard J. Daly Center), Room 2508, located at 50 West Washington St. in Chicago.