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Class Action Suit Challenges Legality of PACER Fees

Back in January, we wrote about a class action suit involving PACER, the government-operated, online database of federal court documents. The complaint in that case (Fisher v. Duff) claimed that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts was overcharging users for access to docket reports on PACER, due to an erroneous formula used to count the number of documents accessed.

Last week another class action was filed against the government, this one challenging the legality of the PACER fees themselves. The plaintiffs, three nonprofit legal service organizations, claim that the fees “far exceed the cost of providing the records,” and thus violate the E-Government Act of 2002. The Act provides for the imposition of court fees for electronic access to information “to reimburse expenses in providing these services.” The complaint alleges that the Administrative Office has used excessive fees “to cover the costs of unrelated projects—ranging from audio systems to flat screens for jurors—at the expense of public access.” You can read the full complaint here.

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