Landes v. Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc. et al. - FAQs


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Questions

Answers

1. What is the lawsuit about?

Answer:

The class action lawsuit claims and alleges that Sony sold Mobile Devices that were deceptively advertised as “waterproof.”  The lawsuit pursues claims for violations of various state consumer protection statutes, among other claims. Sony denies any claims of wrongdoing and/or violation of the law and denies that the Mobile Devices are defective. The parties agreed to resolve these matters before they were decided by the Court.

On January 13, 2016, Named Plaintiffs Logan Landes and James Goddard (“Named Plaintiffs” or “Plaintiffs”) served a demand letter pursuant to California Civil Code § 1782, and other applicable laws, on Sony.  On March 29, 2016, pursuant to confidentiality agreement between the parties, Plaintiffs served document requests on Sony.   Class Counsel Levi & Korsinky LLP (" Class Counsel”) have reviewed over 11,000 documents produced by Sony.  Class Counsel has conferred with a damages expert concerning the potential damages that relate to the claims in their complaint.  As part of extensive arm’s length negotiations, Patrick A. Juneau conducted mediation sessions with Class Counsel and Sony. Class Counsel conducted an interview of Anders Grynge, Director of Sony Customer Services for the Americas, on December 4, 2016.

On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in Landes, et al. v. Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc. et al., No. 2:17-cv-2264-JFB-SIL (United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York) alleging, among other things, that Sony designed, manufactured, distributed, advertised and sold certain Mobile Devices that were alleged to be misrepresented as “waterproof,” but are, in fact, “not waterproof and are not designed for or capable of ordinary underwater use.”  Plaintiffs, on behalf of the classes, further allege that “Sony exploited certain international water resistance ratings in order to launch a deceptive marketing campaign promoting the Devices” and cite to numerous advertisements and other marketing.   Plaintiffs seek certification of a nationwide class of all persons who purchased the devices as well as Illinois and California subclasses, excluding certain persons and entities who/which, by way of example, purchased the devices for resale.

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2. What Sony mobile devices are included in the settlement?

Answer:

The following Sony mobile devices (“Mobile Devices”) distributed for sale in the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are in the settlement:

              Xperia M2 Aqua        Xperia Z3 Dual
              Xperia M4 Aqua Xperia Z3+ Dual
             Xperia ZR  Xperia Z3+
              Xperia Z Ultra                    Xperia Z5
             Xperia Z1     Xperia Z5 Compact
             Xperia Z1 Compact Xperia Z2 Tablet (WiFi)
              Xperia Z1s (T-Mobile) Xperia Z2 Tablet (LTE)
              Xperia Z2 Xperia Z2 Tablet (Verizon LTE)
              Xperia Z3 Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (WiFi)
              Xperia Z3 Compact Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (LTE
              Xperia Z3 (T-Mobile) Xperia Z4 Tablet (WiFi)
              Xperia Z3v (Verizon) Xperia Z4 Tablet (LTE)

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3. Why is this a class action?

Answer:

In a class action, people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. All of these people together are the “Class” or “Class Members” if the Court approves this procedure.  Then, that Court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.

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4. Why is there a settlement?

Answer:

Both sides in the lawsuit agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost and risk of further litigation, including a potential trial, and so that the Class Members can get benefits, in exchange for releasing Sony from liability.  The settlement does not mean that Sony broke any laws and/or did anything wrong, and the Court did not decide which side was right.  Sony stands behind the advertising and warranty of its Mobile Devices. The Named Plaintiffs, who are also Class Representatives, and the lawyers representing them (called “Class Counsel”) believe that the settlement is in the best interests of all Class Members.

The essential terms of the settlement are summarized on this website. The Settlement Agreement along with all exhibits and addenda sets forth in greater detail the rights and obligations of the parties.  If there is any conflict between this website and the Settlement Agreement, the Settlement Agreement governs.

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5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?

Answer:

You are part of the settlement if you are a person, entity or organization who, at any time as of or before August 3, 2017, purchased, own(ed), received as a gift or received as a customer service exchange the Mobile Devices manufactured, marketed, sold and/or distributed by Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc. in any of the fifty States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  This is called the “Class.”

Excluded from the Class are: (a) any persons or entities that purchased or acquired the Mobile Devices for commercial use or resale; (b) any claims aggregators; (c) any person who claims to be an assignee of rights associated with the Mobile Devices; (d) Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc., its officers, directors and employees; its affiliates and affiliates’ officers, directors and employees; its distributors and distributors’ officers, directors and employees; (e)  Class Counsel; (f) judicial officers and their immediate family members and associated court staff assigned to this case; and (g) persons or entities who or which timely and properly exclude themselves from the Class.

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6. I'm still not sure if I'm included in the settlement.

Answer:

If you are not sure whether you are included in the Class, you may call the Class Action Settlement Administrator at toll free 1-844-367-8807.  Please do not contact Sony, cellular phone carriers, or retail stores carrying the Mobile Devices as the Court has ordered that all questions be directed to the Class Action Settlement Administrator.

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7. What does the settlement provide?

Answer:

If you are a Class Member, what you are eligible to receive depends on several factors.  The settlement benefits are outlined generally on the Long Form Notice which can be found under the 'Documents' section of this website..  The Court still has to decide whether to finally approve the settlement.  Sony may begin to offer some of these benefits over time, beginning pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, upon entry of the Preliminary Approval Order by the Court.  However, no benefits have to be provided until and unless the Court finally approves the settlement and only after any appeal period expires or any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement.  We do not know when the Court will finally approve the settlement if it does so or whether there will be any appeals that would have to be resolved in favor of the settlement before certain benefits would be provided, so we do not know precisely when any benefits may be available.  Please check back regularly for updates regarding the settlement.

Please note that you may have to take action within certain deadlines to receive certain benefits, such as completing and submitting a claim form.  If you do nothing, you may not receive certain benefits from the settlement, and, as a Class Member, you will not be able to sue Sony about the issues in the lawsuit.

a.   Warranty Extension Program

Upon the issuance of the Final Order and Final Judgment, Sony agrees to extend the limited warranty for damage resulting from water intrusion: (a) by an additional 12 months for those Mobile Devices where the warranty is still in effect as of the date of the issuance of the Preliminary Approval Order (“Active Warranty Mobile Devices”); and (b) six months for those Mobile Devices that are out-of-warranty as of the date of the issuance of the Preliminary Approval Order (“Expired Warranty Mobile Devices”).   For the Active Warranty Mobile Devices, the date for the extension of the warranty shall be measured from the purchase date.   For the Expired Warranty Mobile Devices, the date of the extension shall begin on the date of the issuance of the Final Order and Final Judgment and expire six months thereafter.   All other terms and conditions of the limited warranty, if still in effect, shall apply.   While Sony shall have no obligation to implement this relief until the occurrence of the Final Effective Date, Sony may, in its discretion, implement all or any part of this relief prior to the applicable deadlines set forth herein.  

 

b.   Advertising Changes

Within 90 days of the issuance of the Preliminary Approval Order, for the Mobile Devices currently being sold by Sony or any newly-introduced models with IP 65/68 substantiation, Sony shall change its advertising and marketing intended for end users in the United Sates relating to “waterproof” or substantially identical terms to “water resistance” or its substantial and/or functional equivalent.   Sony also agrees to notify its third party resellers regarding such advertising changes and the terms of this Settlement Agreement.   In the event that a reseller continues to use the phrase “waterproof” in its advertising or marketing, Sony shall not be responsible for such action or inaction.   Within 90 days of the issuance of the Preliminary Approval Order, Sony shall provide advance copies of representative samples of advertising or marketing changes to Class Counsel for their review and comment, which will be similar in substance to materials already provided to Class Counsel.   The changes required by this Section shall not apply to the global developer website located at http://developer.sonymobile.com.

c.   Claim Reimbursement

If the settlement is finally approved, including resolving any appeals in favor of upholding the settlement, eligible Class Members, during the Claim Period, may submit Claims provided that Class Members: (i) complete and timely submit In-Database Claim Forms or Standard Claim Forms; (ii) have Claims that are eligible for reimbursement; and (iii) do not opt out of the settlement.   The Standard Claim Form shall be available on the settlement website.   Either Claim Form can be submitted in either hard-copy or online.   In no event shall a Class Member be entitled to more than one payment per Mobile Device for the claims at issue. A full listing of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices ("MSRP") at issue  can be found in the important documents section of this website.

i.   In-Database Claim Forms

For Eligible Class Members who previously had timely claims for water-related damages denied by Sony for their in-warranty Mobile Devices, as identified in Sony’s records, Sony shall issue a check of 50% of the at-issue Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (“MSRP”) for the applicable Mobile Device, as indicated in Exhibit 9 to the Settlement Agreement, which is found on the website, to those Class Members who complete and timely return an In-Database Claim Form during the Claim Period.   The MSRP ranges from $249.99 to $679.99, depending upon the applicable Mobile Device.

Class Members in this category shall be sent a notification letter that shall be sent with an In-Database Claim Form.   The notification letter shall notify the Class Members that they are on the list of persons who previously had submitted a water-related claim that was denied by Sony and that they are eligible for relief from this Settlement Agreement, provided they perform several simple tasks in a timely manner.   The Claim Form shall require the Class Member to provide basic information, such as confirming or revising their physical address, in order to be sent the settlement relief check.  

ii.   Standard Claim Form

Eligible Class Members who are not in Sony’s records as having provided an address, may submit, during the Claim Period, Claims for damaged Mobile Devices that were previously submitted to Sony for water intrusion issues for in-warranty Mobile Devices and whose claims for relief were denied by Sony for reasons other than where there are clear indications of misuse or abuse, including, but not limited to, the seals and/or flaps were open at the time of damage, of the Mobile Devices.   Class Members must timely complete the Standard Claim Form.   Sony shall issue a check of 50% of the at-issue MSRP for the applicable Mobile Device to those Class Members who complete and timely return a Standard Claim Form during the Claim Period.   If the Claim is rejected for payment, Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel may meet and confer in an attempt to resolve these denied Claims, as provided in the Settlement Agreement.

iii.   Claim Review and Processing

The Class Action Settlement Administrator shall receive and process the Claims, whether submitted electronically via the settlement website or by U.S. Mail, and the Class Action Settlement Administrator shall administer the review and processing of Claims.   The Class Action Settlement Administrator shall have the authority to determine whether In-Database Claim Forms or Standard Claim Forms submitted by Class Members are complete and timely.

If a Claim is deficient, the Class Action Settlement Administrator shall mail a notice deficiency letter to the Class Member requesting that the Class Member complete the deficiencies and resubmit the In-Database Claim Form or Standard Claim Form within forty-five (45) days of the date of the letter from the Class Action Settlement Administrator.   If the Class Member fails to provide the requested documentation or information, that Claim shall be denied without further processing.  

The Class Action Settlement Administrator shall use their best efforts to complete their review of timely and completed In-Database Claim Forms or Standard Claim Forms within ninety (90) days of receipt.   The Class Action Settlement Administrator’s review period for submitted In-Database Claim Forms or Standard Claim Forms shall not be required to commence any earlier than sixty (60) days after the occurrence of the Final Effective Date.

Please note that the Class Action Settlement Administrator has the right to request verification of the information provided in the Claim Forms, including, but not limited to, receipt(s) or other supporting documentation.   If the Class Member does not timely comply and/or is unable to produce documents to substantiate and/or verify the information on the Claim Form and the Claim is otherwise not approved, the Claim may be reduced or denied.

iv.   When Will I Get Paid for a Submitted Claim?

If accepted for payment, the Class Action Settlement Administrator shall pay the Claim of the Class Member and shall use its best efforts to pay timely, valid and approved Claims within ninety (90) days after receipt of the Claim, provided however, that this date occurs after the occurrence of the Final Effective Date.   The Class Action Settlement Administrator shall periodically request funds from Sony to pay the approved Claims in advance of the date mentioned in this Section and with sufficient time to allow Sony to obtain and provide the funds to the Class Action Settlement Administrator.

If the Claim is rejected for payment, the Class Action Settlement Administrator shall notify  Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel of said rejection of the Class Member’s Claim and the reason(s) why.   The decision of the Class Action Settlement Administrator is final, provided however, that Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel may meet and confer in an attempt to resolve these denied Claims.   If Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel jointly recommend payment of the Claims or payment of a reduced claim amount, then Sony’s Counsel shall inform the Class Action Settlement Administrator, who shall instruct Sony to pay said Claims.   If Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel disagree, they shall notify the Class Action Settlement Administrator who shall make a final decision as to whether the Claims shall be paid.

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8. What am I giving up in exchange for the settlement benefits?

Answer:

If the settlement becomes final, Class Members who do not exclude themselves from the Class will release Sony from liability and will not be able to sue Sony about the issues in the lawsuit.  The Settlement Agreement at Section VII describes the released claims in necessary legal terminology, so read it carefully. The Settlement Agreement is available at in the Important Documents section of this website. You can talk to one of the lawyers listed in FAQ 14 for free or you can, of course, talk to your own lawyer at your own expense if you have questions about the released claims or what they mean.

If you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue Sony over the legal issues in the lawsuit, then you must take steps to get out of this settlement. This is called asking to be excluded from the Class, also referred to as “opting out” of the Class.

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9. If I exclude myself, can I get anything from this settlement?

Answer:

If you exclude yourself, you cannot get settlement benefits.  If you ask to be excluded, you cannot object to the settlement.  But, if you timely and properly request exclusion, the settlement will not prevent you from suing, continuing to sue or remaining or becoming part of a different lawsuit against Sony in the future about the issues in the lawsuit.  If you exclude yourself, you will not be bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit and you may not object to the settlement.

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10. If I don't exclude myself, can I sue later?

Answer:

Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue Sony for the claims resolved by this settlement.  If the settlement is finally approved, you will be permanently enjoined and barred from initiating or continuing any lawsuit or other proceeding against Sony about the issues in the lawsuit

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11. How do I get out of the settlement?

Answer:

To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from the settlement Landes, et al. v. Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc., et al., and mention the case number 2:17-cv-2264-JFB-SIL.  In the letter, you must include your name, address, and telephone number, the Mobile Device’s model name, approximately when and where the model was purchased, your signature and statement that you want to be excluded from the Class or settlement in Landes, et al. v. Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc., et al. 2:17-cv-2264-JFB-SIL (E.D.N.Y.).  You can’t ask to be excluded over the phone or on this website.  You must mail your exclusion request postmarked no later than November 1, 2017 to:

Landes v. Sony Communications Inc.

c/o Heffler Claims Group

PO Box 60257

Philadelphia, PA 19102-0257


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12. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

Answer:

Yes.  The Court has appointed lawyers to represent you and other Class Members.  These lawyers are called “Class Counsel”:  Nancy A. Kulesa and Shannon L. Hopkins of Levi & Korsinsky LLP are Class Counsel.  Their contact information is as follows:

Nancy A. Kulesa

Shannon L. Hopkins

Levi & Korsinsky LLP

30 Broad Street

24th Floor

New York, NY 10004

Tel: (212) 363-7500

Fax: (212) 363-7171

Website: www.zlk.com

If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one to appear in Court for you at your own expense.

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13. How will the lawyers be paid?

Answer:

The law firms that worked on this Action will ask the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees in the amount not to exceed $1,000,000 for fees and out-of-pocket costs and expenses.  Sony will not oppose the request for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses in this amount.

Class Counsel will also ask the Court to award each of the Class Representatives service awards in the amount of $1,000 for the time and effort each spent representing Class Members.  Sony will not oppose the request for Class Representative service awards in this amount.

The Court must approve the request for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses and the request for service awards.  The amounts awarded by the Court will be paid by Sony in addition to all other settlement benefits.  Under no circumstances will Sony’s payment of attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses and Class Representative service awards reduce your settlement benefits.

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14. How do I tell the Court if I don't like the settlement?

Answer:

Any Class Member who has not filed a timely written request for exclusion and who wishes to object to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of this Settlement Agreement, the requested award of Attorneys’ Fees, Costs, and Expenses, or the requested incentive awards to the Named Plaintiffs, must deliver to Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel identified below so that it is received by November 1, 2017 and on file with the Clerk of Court on or before November 1, 2017 a written statement of his/her/its objection.  The written objection of any Class Member must include: (a) a heading which refers to Landes, et al. v. Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc., et al., Case No. 2:17-cv-2264-JFB-SIL (E.D.N.Y.); (b) the objector’s full name, telephone number, and address (the objector’s actual residential address must be included); (c) if represented by counsel, the full name, telephone number, and address of all counsel; (d) all of the reasons for his or her objection; (e) whether the objector intends to appear at the Fairness Hearing on his or her own behalf or through counsel; (f) a statement that the objector is a Class Member, including the Mobile Device(s)’ model name and approximately when and where the Mobile Device(s) was purchased; and (g) the objector’s dated, handwritten signature (an electronic signature or attorney’s signature are not sufficient).  Any documents supporting the objection must also be attached to the objection.  If any testimony is proposed to be given in support of the objection, the names of all persons who will testify must be set forth in the objection.  Class Members may do so either on their own or through an attorney retained at their own expense.  The objection must include proof that you fall within the definition of the Class.

To object, you must send a written objection to Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel at the addresses below so that the objection is received by Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel no later than November 1, 2017. To have your objection considered by the Court, you also must file the objection with the Clerk of Court (identified below) so that it is received and filed no later than November 1, 2017.

Clerk of Court
 United States District Court

 Eastern District of New York

 100 Federal Plaza

 Central Islip, NY 11722      

Class Counsel
 Nancy A. Kulesa

 Levi & Korsinsky LLP

 30 Broad Street

 24th Floor

 New York, NY 10004       

Sony's Counsel
 John P. Hooper

 KING & SPALDING LLP

 1185 Avenue of the Americas

 New York, NY 10036       


 

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15. What's the difference between objecting and excluding?

Answer:

Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class.  If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the settlement no longer affects you. Objecting is telling the Court that you don’t like something about the settlement.  You can object only if you stay in the Class.

If you are a Class Member and you do nothing, you will remain a Class Member and all of the Court’s orders will apply to you, you will be eligible for the settlement benefits described above as long as you satisfy the conditions for receiving each benefit, and you will not be able to sue Sony over the issues in the lawsuit.

The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement.  If you have filed an objection on time and attend the hearing, you may ask to speak, but you don’t have to attend or speak.

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16. When and where will the Court decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement?

Answer:

The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 1:30 p.m. E.S.T. on December 1, 2017 at the United States District Courthouse for the Eastern District of New York in courtroom 1020, located at 100 Federal Plaza, Central Islip, NY 11722 .  At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.  If there are objections, the Court will consider them.  The Court will only listen to people who have met the requirement to speak at the hearing (See Question 18 below).  After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant final approval the settlement, and, if so, how much to pay the lawyers representing Class Members.  We do not know how long these decisions will take.  The Court may reschedule the Fairness Hearing, so check this website periodically for further updates.

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17. Do I have to come to the hearing?

Answer:

No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don't have to come to Court to talk about it - but you can if you provide advance notice of your intention to appear. As long as you filed a written objection with all of the required information on time with the Court and delivered it on time to Class Counsel and Sony's Counsel, the Court will consider it. You may also pay another lawyer to attend, but it is not required.

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18. May I speak at the hearing?

Answer:

You or your attorney may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing.  To do so, you must send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intent to Appear in Landes v. Sony Mobile Communications (U.S.A.), Inc. et al.” to Class Counsel and Sony’s Counsel identified above in response to Question 14 so that they receive it no later than November 1, 2017.  You must also file the document with the Clerk of Court so that it is received and filed no later than November 1, 2017.  You must include your name, address, telephone number, the Mobile Device’s model name, and approximately when and where the Mobile Device was purchased, and your signature.  Anyone who has requested permission to speak must be present at the start of the Fairness hearing at 1:30 p.m. E.S.T. on December 1, 2017. You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself from the Class

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19. How do I get more information?

Answer:

The Class  Notice summarizes the proposed settlement.  More details are in a Settlement Agreement, including its exhibits and addenda.  You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement and other information about the settlement, including, but not limited to, answers to frequently asked questions and the Claim Forms, on this website.  You can also call the toll-free number, (844) 367-8807 or write the Class Action Settlement Administrator at Landes v. Sony Communications Inc., c/o Heffler Claims Group, PO Box 60257 Philadelphia, PA 19102-0257. You can also look at the documents filed in the lawsuit at the Court at the address provided above in response to Question 14.

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20. When will the settlement be final?

Answer:

The settlement will not be final unless and until the Court grants final approval of the settlement at or after the Fairness Hearing and after any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement.  Please be patient and check this website regularly.  Please do not contact Sony, cellular phone carriers, or retail stores carrying the Mobile Devices as the Court has ordered that all questions be directed to the Class Action Settlement Administrator.

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This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel and controlled by Heffler Claims Group, the Class Action Settlement Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.

Documents

Please read for a full explanation of the settlement and your options and all applicable timelines.

Contact

Contact us with any inquiries, comments, and/or requests.

Submit Claim

Click here to safely and securely submit a Claim Form.

Important Dates

  • Exclusion Deadline

    Wednesday, November 1, 2017 You must complete and mail your request for exclusion form so that it is postmarked no later than November 1, 2017.
  • Objection Deadline

    Wednesday, November 1, 2017 You must mail your objection(s) and/or notice of intent to appear at the Final Fairness Hearing so that it/they are received by Counsel and the Court no later than November 1, 2017.
  • File Notice of Appearance

    Wednesday, November 1, 2017 The deadline to file a Notice of Appearance so that it/they are received by Counsel and the Court no later than November 1, 2017. 
  • Fairness Hearing

    Friday, December 1, 2017

    The Fairness Hearing is scheduled for December 1, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. E.S.T. Please check this website for updates.

  • Claim Form Deadline

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 You must submit your Claim Form on-line no later than Tuesday, January 30, 2018, or mail your completed paper Claim Form so that it is postmarked no later than Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

Important Documents

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