Kagno v. Bush Ross, P.A., 2017 WL 6026494 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 4, 2017)
Update: The Court granted final approval to the settlement on April 6, 2018
If Bush Ross, P.A. sent an initial debt collection letter to you between June 16, 2016 and November 20, 2017, you may benefit from the settlement of this class action lawsuit.
A federal court authorized this notice.
This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.
This is a class action lawsuit about whether Bush Ross, P.A. violated a federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as a result of initial debt collection letters it sent to collect past-due assessments from Florida consumers. Your legal rights are affected whether you act or don’t act. Please read this notice carefully.
|YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT:|
|SUBMIT A TIMELY CLAIM FORM||If you submit a timely claim form and qualify as a Class Member, you will receive an equal share of the $35,000 settlement fund. The amount of your recovery will depend on the number of class members who submit claims. It is estimated that each claimant will receive between $100 and $200.|
If you do nothing, you will get nothing from the settlement fund but will release any claim you have against Bush Ross that is resolved by this lawsuit.
|ASK TO BE EXCLUDED||
If you ask to be excluded, you will receive no payment from this case. This will, however, allow you to sue Bush Ross over the claims resolved by this lawsuit.
|OBJECT||You may write to the Court about why you don’t agree with the settlement.
|GO TO A HEARING||If you object, you may also ask to speak to the Court about the settlement.
These rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in this notice. The Court in charge of this case still has to decide whether to approve the settlement. If it does, and after any appeals are resolved, money will be distributed to those who submitted valid claims. Please be patient.
Importantly, this settlement does not impact any payment plan you may have with Bush Ross, P.A., and does not affect any debts you are alleged to owe to Bush Ross, P.A. or to your association, if any.
1. Why did I get this notice?
A Court authorized this notice to be sent to you because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of this class action, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to give “final approval” to the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement agreement (“Settlement Agreement”), and after any appeals are resolved, payments will be made to everyone who submits a valid claim. This notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them. Judge Richard A. Lazzara of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida is overseeing this class action. The case is known as Juliet Kagno v. Bush Ross, P.A., Case No. 8:17-cv-1468-T-26AEP.
2. What is this lawsuit about?
The lawsuit claims that Bush Ross violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not providing proper disclosures to consumers in its initial debt collection letters. Bush Ross has denied these allegations and maintains that it did not act wrongfully or unlawfully. The Court has not decided who is right.
3. Why is there a settlement?Both sides agreed to settle to avoid the cost, risk, and delay of litigation. By settling, the parties avoid the cost and risk of a trial, and the people who qualify will get compensation. The Class Representative and her attorneys think the settlement is best for all class members.
4. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?
Bush Ross’s records indicate that you may be a member of the settlement class. You need to decide whether you are affected by this lawsuit, and can submit a claim, via the enclosed claim form, if you fit within the definition below:
All persons (a) with a Florida address, (b) to whom Bush Ross, P.A., (c) from June 16, 2016 through November 20, 2017, (d) in connection with an attempt to collect an alleged debt incurred for personal, family, or household purposes, (e) mailed an initial debt collection communication not returned to Bush Ross, P.A. as undeliverable that:
(1) stated “Unless the entire sum is paid within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter, we may proceed with action to protect the Association’s interests, including, but not limited to the recording of a claim of lien, which can result in additional attorney’s fees, costs and interest,” and/or
(2) stated “If you notify the attorney named below within the said 30-day period that the aforesaid debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the attorney named below shall obtain written verification of said debt . . . and mail same to you,” and/or
(3) failed to provide a statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the 30-day period after receipt of the communication, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
5. What can I get from the settlement?The final amount of the distribution to the class in unknown but is estimated to be between $100 and $200. The exact amount will be determined by the number of people who submit claim forms and qualify as Class Members. The class will receive a total of $35,000, to be divided evenly based on the number of Class Members who submit valid claims. In addition, Bush Ross has changed the language in its initial debt collection letters to address the allegations in this Lawsuit.
6. When will I get these benefits?You will receive these benefits after the Court grants “final approval” of the settlement and any appeals are resolved. If the Court approves the Settlement after a hearing on April 6, 2018, there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time.
7. I want to be a part of the settlement and receive these benefits. What do I need to do?
To receive the benefits of the Settlement, you need to submit a timely claim form, included with this notice (along with a return envelope), with a postmark date no later than February 19, 2018 to First Class, Inc.– Kagno, 5410 W. Roosevelt Road, Suite 222, Chicago, IL 60644-1490. Also, notify the claims administrator of any changes in your address if so needed.
8. What am I giving up to get a payment or stay in the Class?
Unless you exclude yourself, you remain in the class, which means that you can’t individually sue Bush Ross over the claims settled in this case. If you stay in the class, you will agree to “release and discharge” Bush Ross as described in the Settlement Agreement.
9. How do I get out of the settlement?
If you don’t want a payment from this settlement, but you want to keep the right to individually sue Bush Ross about the issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out of the settlement. To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from Juliet Kagno v. Bush Ross, P.A. You must include the case number (8:17-cv-1468-T-26AEP), your full name, address, telephone number, email address (if available), and your signature. You must also include a clear statement that you wish to be excluded from the settlement class. You must mail your request for exclusion postmarked on or before February 19, 2018 to:
First Class, Inc. / Kagno
5410 W. Roosevelt Road, Suite 222
Chicago, IL 60644-1490
Submitting a timely and valid exclusion request in writing is the only way to voluntarily exclude yourself from the Settlement. If you exclude yourself, you will not receive a payment from this Settlement.
10. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
The Court appointed Michael L. Greenwald and Jesse S. Johnson of Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC to represent you and other Class Members as “Class Counsel.” You do not have to pay Class Counsel. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, and have that lawyer appear in court for you in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.
11. How will the lawyers and Class Representative be paid?
Class Counsel will ask the Court for $55,000, to be paid separate and apart from the Settlement Fund, to cover attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of their costs and expenses. The Court may award less than this amount. In addition, Bush Ross will pay $1,000 to the Class Representative, separate and apart from the Settlement Fund.
12. Does this settlement affect any debts Bush Ross says I owe?
No. This lawsuit is about whether Bush Ross provided proper disclosures in its initial debt collection letters. This lawsuit does not affect any monies you may be alleged to owe to Bush Ross or others, and does not impact any payment plan you may have. If you have questions about any debts you are alleged to owe, you should contact an attorney of your choosing.
13. How do I tell the Court if I don’t agree with the settlement?
If you don’t want the Court to approve the Settlement, you must file a written objection in the case with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and send a copy to the counsel as noted below. You must include the name of the case, your full name, address, telephone number, email address (if available), your signature, and the specific reasons why you object to the Settlement. You and/or your lawyer may attend the Settlement Approval Hearing, but are not required to do so. This hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. on April 6, 2018, at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602. If you and/or your lawyer wish to attend the Settlement Approval Hearing in person, please indicate that you will do so in your written objection.
|File the objection with the Clerk of the Court at the address below on or before February 19, 2018.||Mail a copy of the objection to Class Counsel and Bush Ross’s Counsel at the following addresses so that the correspondence is postmarked on or before February 19, 2018.|
Clerk of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse
801 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, FL 33602
|Michael L. Greenwald, Esq.
Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC
5550 Glades Road, Suite 500
Boca Raton, FL 33431
|Bush Ross’s Counsel
||Brett J. Preston, Esq.
Hill, Ward & Henderson, P.A.
101 East Kennedy Blvd., Suite 3700
Post Office Box 2231
Tampa, FL 33601
14. What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you do nothing, you will be bound by the terms of the settlement and will release any claims that you may have against Bush Ross under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act arising from its initial debt collection letters. You will also receive no monies. Also, unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to sue Bush Ross for the claims resolved in this case.
15. How do I get more information about the settlement?
This notice is only a summary of the proposed settlement of this lawsuit. All pleadings and documents filed with the Court, including the class action settlement agreement, may be reviewed or copied in the Clerk of Court, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Please do not contact the Court or the Judge about this case. Neither the Judge, nor the Clerk of Court, will be able to give you advice about this case.
Do not contact Bush Ross, P.A. about this case. Bush Ross’s attorneys do not represent you and cannot give you legal advice.
However, Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC does not represent you with regard to any claim that Bush Ross, P.A.’s clients may have against you. Therefore, you may still contact Bush Ross, P.A. about your association’s claim, if any, against you, as those claims are not part of this lawsuit.