Lawsuit Challenging PACER Fees Certified As Class Action

A federal lawsuit challenging as excessive the fees charged by PACER, the federal courts’ electronic records system, has been certified as a class action.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in the District of Columbia approved the class of “[a]ll individuals and entities who have paid fees for the use of PACER within the past six years, excluding class counsel and agencies of the federal government.”

The lawsuit, National Veterans Legal Services Program v. U.S., claims that PACER’s fee schedule is higher than necessary to cover the costs of operating PACER and therefore violates the E-Government Act of 2002, which allows the federal judiciary to charge fees for PACER that are reasonable and “only to the extent necessary.”

Plaintiffs assert that the judiciary is charging far more than necessary in PACER fees, and that the fees it collects are going to purposes other than PACER, such as courtroom technology, websites for jurors, and bankruptcy notification systems.

Judge Huvelle found that the lawsuit meets the requirements for class certification under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In December, Judge Huvelle denied the government’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Judge Huvelle’s memorandum granting class certification is below. (If you have trouble with the PDF viewer, here is a direct link to the PDF.)