Dennis Toeppen of Suburban Express is still deploying his highly-peculiar brand of “customer service” — something that includes doxxing unhappy customers, suing unhappy customers, suingunhappy customers, suing unhappy customers and being arrested for “harassment through electronic communications.”
Nothing has changed. Toeppen is still a lawsuit fan who believes negative reviewers or anyone who doesn’t fully appreciate how hard it is to run a shuttle bus service should be forced to pay $500 (at least) in “liquidated damages.” Now, he’s looking to pave himself a downhill slope for his future lawsuit filing. Techdirt reader Kionae sends over this article from the University of Illinois’ campus newspaper which contains a small detail that shows just how far Toeppen is willing to go to get his $500.
Suburban Express recently changed its “Terms & Conditions” so any legal action arising on the online transaction of tickets should take place in Ford County, roughly 30 miles north of Champaign.
In a statement on its website, the company said it chose Ford County “because of high availability of court dates, efficient court operation, excellent staff work ethic, low costs for both parties, easy parking, and other factors.”
This has nothing to do with “efficient court operations” and has everything to do with making it economically unfeasible for sued college students to fight back. Taking the action 30 miles away strips students of the following protection:
According to the Student Legal Services Operational Plan, Student Legal Services can only represent eligible students who have cases in or originating in Champaign County.
Toeppen’s change of venue is carefully calculated to extract the most money/misery from the situation. That situation, of course, is Toeppen’s inability to run a business and field criticism at the same time. In Toeppen’s defense, he’ll say he’s never wrong and it’s these spoiled brat students with overactive mouths who are to blame. (What? Did you think I was going to half-heartedly defend any aspect of Toeppen’s behavior?)
With students forced to pay for their own defense against Toeppen’s frivolous, vindictive lawsuits, the needle moves towards a higher default judgment rate. That’s what Toeppen wants, considering his legal arguments are mostly indefensible. This should see his lawsuit-filing rate approaching the stratospheric highs of 2012-13, a two-year span in which Suburban Express filed 126 lawsuits. Toeppen is misusing the judicial system. Hopefully, the judges there will recognize his venue-shifting for what it is and push cases back to the proper courts.