May 29, 2012, 11:13 AM

Groupon proposes to settle voucher claims for $8.5 million

Several lawsuits claim deal expirations and restrictions are unlawful.

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Groupon Inc. has offered a settlement to consumers who filed lawsuits that challenged the legality of the restrictions and expiration dates of the vouchers sold by the daily deal operator.

Among the central claims in the suits is that Groupon’s vouchers are gift certificates. Several federal and state consumer protection laws restrict, or in some cases prohibit, expiration dates on gift certificates.

In proposing a settlement of $8.5 million, Groupon denies that it has done anything wrong or illegal, and admits no liability, according to an agreement posted on the settlement web site GrouponVoucherSettlement.com. The agreement would pay the 17 original claimants $500 each, and then distribute the remaining money among Groupon customers who file a claim in the future. Consumers who purchased a Groupon or received one as a gift between Nov. 1, 2008, and Dec. 1, 2011, are eligible to make a claim until July 6.

Groupon also says it will offer claimants a voucher that can be redeemed for up to the original purchase price of their original voucher. If that voucher isn’t honored, Groupon will enable shoppers to submit a second claim to receive a refund check.

Groupon did not immediately return a request for comment.

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