MEREDITH V UNITED COLLECTION BUREAU, INC.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:16-CV-01102, N.D. OHIO

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO

NOTICE OF PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

 

 

YOU RECEIVED A NOTICE BECAUSE THE RECORDS OF DEFENDANT INDICATE YOU ARE A MEMBER

OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT CLASS IN THIS CASE. 

 

PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY.

 

Valid claimants are expected to receive between about $250 and $7,500, based on the number of calls received.

  1. WHY YOU RECEIVED A NOTICE?

    1. You received a notice of this lawsuit because the records of Defendant United Collection Bureau, Inc. (“UCB” or “Defendant”) show that it may have made wrong-number calls to your cell phone number using its IAT CT Center dialer during the period of May 9, 2012 through October 5, 2018. If this is true, then you may be a member of the Settlement Class in a class action lawsuit filed against UCB, and entitled to receive money.

  2. WHAT IS THIS LAWSUIT ABOUT?

    1. Plaintiff Deborah Meredith (“Plaintiff”) sued UCB alleging that it made automated calls to her cell phone intended for someone else, and that such calls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. § 227.  Plaintiff sought to represent a class of persons to whom UCB made similar automated, wrong-number calls. UCB denies these allegations, but has agreed to settle to avoid the costs and uncertainties of litigation. The Court has preliminarily certified the Settlement Class, which has been defined as:

      All non-customers (1) to whom UCB placed one or more calls, (2) directed to a number assigned to a cellular telephone service, but not assigned to the intended recipient of UCB’s calls, (3) by using UCB’s IAT CT Center dialer, (4) from May 9, 2012, through October 5, 2018, limited to the 194 class members on the Class List.

       

      The discovery in this case revealed, and UCB represents, that there are 194 unique phone numbers that fall within the Settlement Class as defined above, with a total of 634 prerecorded-voice calls to those 194 numbers.  This is the “Class List.”  Settlement Class Counsel or the Settlement Administrator (as defined [in the Settlement Agreement]) will identify the members of the Settlement Class based upon the information, through discovery, that UCB provided to Settlement Class Counsel.

  3. WHO REPRESENTS YOU?

    1. The Court has appointed Burke Law Offices, LLC, SmithMarco, P.C., and The Law Firm of Mitch Luxenburg to represent the Settlement Class as Class Counsel.  Class Counsel may be contacted at: Burke Law Offices, LLC, 155 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 9020, Chicago, IL 60601; (312) 729-5288; [email protected]. Further documents and information are available at here.

  4. WHAT IS THE SETTLEMENT?

    1. The parties to the lawsuit have agreed to settle after extensive negotiations. Under the proposed Settlement, UCB agrees to fund a Settlement Fund in the amount of $317,000. If the Court approves this Settlement, notice and administrative costs will be paid from the Settlement Fund, at an anticipated amount of approximately $6,500. The Net Settlement Fund remaining will cover up to a $10,000 incentive award to the Plaintiff, attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel (who will seek 1/3 of the total Settlement Fund, or $105,666.66), and costs (expected to total about $15,000). After these amounts are deducted, each Class Member who submits a valid claim will be mailed a check equal to a pro rata amount of the remaining Net Settlement Fund based on how many calls UCB’s records indicate they received, per the Class List.

  5. WHAT ARE MY LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS?

    1. (1) Remain a member of the Settlement Class and submit a claim to receive a portion of the Net Settlement Fund. In order to receive a payment under this Settlement, you must fully complete and submit the claim form provided with this notice in the manner indicated (see instructions on claim form), or submit a claim online, by October 1, 2019 (“Claims Deadline”). If you do not submit a fully completed claim by the Claims Deadline, you will not receive any payment, you will still remain a member of the Settlement Class, and you will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

      The value of each individual settlement payment cannot be known until the Claims Deadline has passed and all claims are verified. However, individual Class Member payments are expected to exceed around $250 each and, in some cases, may exceed several thousand dollars. Thus, to avoid IRS backup withholding, complete the enclosed W-9 Form, and return it to the Settlement Administrator. If you do not return a W-9 Form, any amount of the Settlement Fund distributable to you totaling $600 or more will be subject to IRS backup withholding.

      If the Settlement is approved, each Class Member who submits a timely and valid claim will receive a payment by check of their pro rata distribution of the Settlement Fund based on number of calls received as reflected in the Class List, less the cost of notice and administration, attorneys’ fees and costs, and any incentive award to the named Plaintiff. Further pro rata cash distributions to Class Members who cashed their initial check will occur from the proceeds of any uncashed checks after the initial distribution, to the extent administratively feasible. If further distributions are not administratively feasible, remaining funds will be distributed to the National Consumer Law Center or other non-profit approved by the Court. Unless you opt out of the Settlement as detailed below, you will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement, including the release of all Released Claims against UCB and the Released Parties for TCPA and similar violations.

      (2) Exclude Yourself from the Settlement.  If you do not wish to participate in the Settlement, you may exclude yourself from the Settlement by sending a letter of notice of your intent to be excluded from the Settlement to the Settlement Administrator: UCB TCPA SETTLEMENT, PO BOX 23680, JACKSONVILLE, FL  32241-3680. The exclusion request must (1) state your name, address, current phone number and, if different, the phone number UCB called; (2) state that you wish to be excluded from the Settlement Class in Meredith v. United Collection Bureau, Inc., No. 1:16-cv-01102 (N.D. Ohio); and (3) must be signed by you. The letter must be postmarked on or before October 1, 2019, or you will remain a Settlement Class Member.  If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you will not be eligible to receive a cash payment under the Settlement Agreement, and you will not be releasing any claims you may have against UCB or the Released Parties.

      (3) Object to the Settlement.    You have the right to tell the Court that you object to the Settlement or any part of it by filing a written objection with the Clerk of the Court advising the Court of your objection.  If you wish to object to the Settlement, you must remain a member of the Settlement Class and you cannot exclude yourself from it.  Either on your own or through an attorney, you can file an objection explaining why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement. You must file any objection with the Clerk of the Court, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Carl B. Stokes U.S. Court House, 801 W. Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113, in the case of Meredith v. United Collection Bureau, Inc., No. 1:16-cv-01102 (N.D. Ohio), and concurrently send such objection to Class Counsel at the address above.  The objection must include (1) your name, address, current phone number and, if different, the phone number UCB called; (2) the objection to the Settlement, whether the objection applies only to the objector, to a specific subset of the class, or to the entire class, and the specific grounds for the objection; (3) any documentation in support; and (4) a statement of whether you intend to appear at the final approval hearing, in person or through counsel. Any objection must be filed with the Clerk of the Court on or before October 1, 2019, with concurrent service on Class Counsel at the address above. The Court will consider your objection if you properly submit an objection on time.

      (4) Do Nothing. You are not required to take any action and may simply do nothing. If you do nothing, you will remain a Settlement Class Member, but you will not receive a cash recovery and will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement, including but not limited to a release of any claim(s) you may have against UCB and the Released Parties for TCPA and similar violations. 

  6. WHAT AM I GIVING UP UNDER THE SETTLEMENT?

    1. Claims for improper phone calls under the TCPA range from $500 to $1,500 per violation, plus injunctive relief. If you exclude yourself, you can attempt to obtain more money than you will get pursuant to this Settlement. However, UCB will assert all available defenses in any such lawsuit, and you could get nothing. This Settlement provides less money than you could get if you sued on your own, but removes the risk you might face if you did so.

       

      If the Settlement becomes final, you will be releasing UCB and applicable Released Parties from any TCPA and related claims that you may have accrued up to and including December 28, 2018.

       

      Specifically, on the Effective Date of the Settlement, Plaintiff and the Settlement Class Members who have not opted out or been otherwise excluded from the Settlement Class shall be deemed to have fully and finally released and discharged the Released Parties from any and all liability for the Released Claims. The “Released Parties” include Defendant UCB and each of its respective divisions, parents, subsidiaries, predecessors, investors, parent companies, affiliates, and insurers, whether past or present, any direct or indirect subsidiary of UCB and each of their respective divisions, parents, subsidiaries, predecessors, investors, parent companies, affiliates, and insurers, whether past or present, and all of the officers, directors, employees, agents, brokers, distributors, representatives, clients, and any other persons on whose behalf UCB attempted to contact consumers. The “Released Claims” include any and all claims, causes of action, suits, obligations, debts, demands, agreements, promises, liabilities, damages, losses, controversies, costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees of any nature whatsoever, whether based on any federal law, state law, common law, territorial law, foreign law, contract, rule, regulation, any regulatory promulgation (including, but not limited to, any opinion or declaratory ruling), common law or equity, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, asserted or unasserted, foreseen or unforeseen, actual or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, punitive or compensatory damages, based upon the TCPA or any state court analog claims resting upon UCB’s use of automated equipment or prerecorded messages during UCB’s outbound phone calls to cell phones, and that accrued at any time up to and including [December 28, 2018].  The unknown claims referred to herein means and includes all claims, demands, rights, liabilities, and causes of action for damages arising out of, or relating to, claims involving the factual predicate alleged in the Litigation, which any person does not know or suspect to exist in his, her or its favor at the time of execution of th[e] Agreement which, known by him, her or it, might have affected his, her or its settlement or release of claims for damages, up to the date of th[e] Agreement.

  7. WHEN IS THE FINAL APPROVAL HEARING?

    1. The Court has scheduled a final approval hearing before Judge Patricia A. Gaughan on November 7, 2019, at 9:00 a.m., in Courtroom 19B of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Carl B. Stokes U.S. Court House, 801 W. Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113.  You do not have to appear at this hearing.  However, you or your attorney may attend this hearing if you desire and request to address the Court regarding any matters relating to this Settlement. 

  8. WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

    1. This notice is intended only as a summary of the lawsuit and proposed Settlement. It is not a complete statement of the Lawsuit or the proposed Settlement. You may inspect the pleadings and other papers (including the Settlement Agreement) that have been filed in this case number, at the office of the Clerk of the Court, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Carl B. Stokes U.S. Court House, 801 W. Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113.  If you have questions about this notice or the proposed Settlement or would like to request a copy of the Settlement Agreement or other associated court filings, you may contact Settlement Class Counsel at the address, e-mail, or phone number listed above, or visit the Important Documents Section. DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR DEFENDANT FOR THIS INFORMATION.                                                                         

      BY ORDER OF THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT, N.D. OHIO.