Attorneys representing travelers filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the United States Department of State (DOS) claiming the agency didn't deliver passports to millions of travelers on time even after they paid an extra fee to speed up the process.
According to the complaint, thousands of Americans paid the DOS an additional $60 fee to receive a new passport within 3 days, a process that can drag on for weeks.
The fee provides a 3-business day turnaround once the application arrives at the passport agency. If the DOS misses the deadline, its regulations state a failure to deliver an expedited order in the allotted time results in a refund to the applicant. The complaint claims the DOS failed to meet both commitments to travelers.
The complaint claims the State Department's failure to meet its obligation forced travelers nationwide to cancel travel plans. The named plaintiff, Julie Chattler, sent her passport application on June 11, 2007 with the $60 fee for expedited service as well as payment for overnight shipment of her application and passport once it was completed.
On Aug. 2, 2007, 7 weeks after submitting her application, Chattler still hadn't received her passport. She was then required to go in-person to her passport agency to re-apply for her passport in order to travel as planned on Aug. 3, 2007.
According to reports, Americans experienced extensive passport delays throughout 2007 as new passport requirements came into effect requiring citizens to present a passport for air travel when entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean.
The complaint claims the DOS required residents affected by the backlog to send a written application for a refund instead of using its own records that clearly indicate the date the application arrived and the date of readiness or mailing.
This lawsuit seeks to recover the expedite fee for all individuals whose passports were not processed within three business days.
All residents who paid the $60 fee for expedited service and whose passports were not processed within three business days are eligible to join this suit. This includes all passport applicants from Aug. 7, 2001 until present.