Frequently Asked Questions
- Why was the Notice issued?
- What is a class action?
- What is this lawsuit about?
- Why is there a Settlement?
- How do I know if I am in the Settlement Class?
- What does the Settlement provide?
- How much will my payment be?
- When will I get my payment?
- How do I get a payment?
- What am I giving up if I stay in the Class?
- What happens if I do nothing at all?
- Do I have a lawyer in the case?
- How will the lawyers be paid?
- How do I get out of the Settlement?
- If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the Defendant for the same thing later?
- If I exclude myself, can I get anything from this Settlement?
- How do I object to the Settlement?
- What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself from the Settlement?
- When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
- Do I have to come to the hearing?
- May I speak at the hearing?
- Where do I get more information?
1. Why was the Notice issued?
A Court authorized the Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of this class action lawsuit and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to give final approval to the Settlement. The Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.
The Honorable Judith E. Levy, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is overseeing this case. The case is called Moeller et al. v. American Media, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:16-cv-11367-JEL-EAS. The persons who have sued are called the Plaintiffs. The Defendants are American Media, Inc. and Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group, Inc.
2. What is a class action?
In a class action, one or more people called class representatives (in this case, Elizabeth Moeller and Nicole Brisson) sue on behalf of a group or a “class” of people who have similar claims. In a class action, the court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.
3. What is this lawsuit about?
This lawsuit claims that Defendants violated Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act, M.C.L. § 445.1712 (“PPPA”) by disclosing information related to its customers’ magazine subscriptions to third parties. The Defendants deny they violated any law. The Court has not determined who is right. Rather, the Parties have agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the uncertainties and expenses associated with ongoing litigation.
4. Why is there a Settlement?
The Court has not decided whether the Plaintiffs or the Defendants should win this case. Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement. That way, they avoid the uncertainties and expenses associated with ongoing litigation, and Class Members will get compensation sooner rather than, if at all, after the completion of a trial.
5. How do I know if I am in the Settlement Class?
The Court decided that the approximately 415,000 people who fit the following description are members of the Settlement Class:
Persons that had Michigan street addresses who obtained a subscription to an American Media, Inc. and/or Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group, Inc. Publication between April 14, 2010, and July 31, 2016.
The covered magazines include: Country Weekly, Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Flex, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Natural Health, National Examiner, Shape, Star, OK!, Radar, Soap Opera Digest, National Enquirer, and Globe.
6. What does the Settlement provide?
Monetary Relief: Defendants have created a Settlement Fund totaling $7,600,000.00, which they will pay in installments over two years. Class Member payments, and the cost to administer the Settlement, the cost to inform people about the Settlement, attorneys’ fees, and an award to the Class Representatives will also come out of this fund (see Question 13).
Privacy Protections: In addition to this monetary relief, for a period of four (4) years following Preliminary Approval, the Defendants have agreed not to disclose any Michigan Subscriber Information to any third-party companies without the prior express written consent of the affected subscribers. A detailed description of the settlement benefits can be found in the Settlement Agreement.
7. How much will my payment be?
If you are member of the Settlement Class you may submit a Claim Form to receive a portion of the Settlement Fund. The amount of this payment will depend on how many of the Class Members file valid claims. Each Class Member who files a valid claim will receive a proportionate share of the Settlement Fund, which Class Counsel anticipates will be approximately $100. You can contact Class Counsel at 1-866-354-3015 to inquire as to the number of claims filed.
8. When will I get my payment?
The hearing to consider the fairness of the Settlement is scheduled for September 27, 2017. If the Court approves the Settlement, eligible Class Members whose claims were approved by the Settlement Administrator will receive their payment 28 days after Defendants make their last installment payment into the settlement fund. The payment will be made in the form of a check, and all checks will expire and become void 90 days after they are issued.
9 How do I get a payment?
If you are a Class Member and you want to get a payment, you must complete and submit a Claim Form by October 21, 2017. Claim Forms can be found and submitted on-line or you may have received a Claim Form in the mail as a postcard attached to a summary of the Notice. To submit a Claim Form on-line, click here, or to request a paper copy, call toll free, 1-844-363-2454.
We also encourage you to submit your claim on-line. Not only is it easier and more secure, but it is completely free and takes only minutes!
10. What am I giving up if I stay in the Class?
If the Settlement becomes final, you will give up your right to sue Defendants for the claims this Settlement resolve. The Settlement Agreement describes the specific claims you are giving up against the Defendants. You will be “releasing” the Defendants and certain of its affiliates described in Section 1.26 of the Settlement Agreement. Unless you exclude yourself (see Question 14), you are “releasing” the claims, regardless of whether you submit a claim or not. The Settlement Agreement is available through the “court documents” link on this website.
The Settlement Agreement describes the released claims with specific descriptions, so read it carefully. If you have any questions you can talk to the lawyers listed in Question 12 for free or you can, of course, talk to your own lawyer if you have questions about what this means.
11. What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you do nothing, you won’t get any benefits from this Settlement. But, unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to start a lawsuit or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants for the claims being resolved by this Settlement.
12. Do I have a lawyer in the case?
The Court has appointed Jay Edelson of Edelson PC and Scott A. Bursor of Bursor & Fisher, P.A to be the attorneys representing the Settlement Class. They are called “Class Counsel.” They believe, after conducting an extensive investigation, that the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your expense.
13. How will the lawyers be paid?
The Defendants have agreed to pay Class Counsel attorneys’ fees and costs in an amount to be determined by the Court. The fee petition will seek no more than thirty-five percent (35%) of the Settlement Fund, plus reimbursement of their costs and expenses; the Court may award less than this amount. Under the Settlement Agreement, any amount awarded to Class Counsel will be paid out of the Settlement Fund.
Subject to approval by the Court, Defendants have agreed to pay the two Class Representatives $5,000 each from the Settlement Fund for their services in helping to bring and settle this case.
14. How do I get out of the Settlement?
To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must mail or otherwise deliver a letter (or request for exclusion) stating that you want to be excluded from the Moeller et al. v. American Media, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:16-cv-11367-JEL-EAS Settlement. Your letter or request for exclusion must also include your name, your address, the name of the American Media, Inc. and/or Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group, Inc. publication(s) to which you subscribed, your signature, the name and number of this case, and a statement that you wish to be excluded. You must mail or deliver your exclusion request no later than August 14, 2017 to:
Magazine Subscriber Privacy Settlement Administrator
PO Box 43494
Providence, RI 02940-9827
15. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the Defendant for the same thing later?
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue the Defendants for the claims being resolved by this Settlement.
16. If I exclude myself, can I get anything from this Settlement?
No. If you exclude yourself, do not submit a Claim Form to ask for benefits.
17. How do I object to the Settlement?
If you’re a Class Member, you can object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must file with the Court a letter or brief stating that you object to the Settlement in Moeller et al. v. American Media, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:16-cv-11367-JEL-EAS and identify all your reasons for your objections (including citations and supporting evidence) and attach any materials you rely on for your objections. Your letter or brief must also include your name, your address, the basis upon which you claim to be a Class Member (including the name of the American Media, Inc., and/or Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group, Inc. magazine(s) to which you are or were a subscriber), the name and contact information of any and all attorneys representing, advising, or in any way assisting you in connection with your objection, and your signature. If you, or an attorney assisting you with your objection, have ever objected to any class action Settlement where you or the objecting attorney has asked for or received payment in exchange for dismissal of the objection (or any related appeal) without modification to the Settlement, you must include a statement in your objection identifying each such case by full case caption. You must also mail or deliver a copy of your letter or brief to Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel listed below.
Class Counsel will file with the Court and post on this website its request for attorneys’ fees by July 31, 2017.
If you want to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing to object to the Settlement, with or without a lawyer (explained below in answer to Question 21), you must say so in your letter or brief. File the objection with the Court and mail a copy to the below places postmarked no later than August 14, 2017.
|The Hon Judith E. Levy
Federal Building, Suite 300
200 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
350 North LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60654
Scott A. Bursor
Bursor & Fisher PA
888 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
1900 M St NW
Washington, DC 20036
18. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself from the Settlement?
Objecting simply means telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself from the Class 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 case no longer affects you.
19. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
The Court will hold the Final Approval Hearing at 3:30 p.m. on September 27, 2017 in Courtroom 100 at the Federal Building, 200 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The purpose of the hearing will be for the Court to determine whether to approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class; to consider the Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and expenses; and to consider the request for an incentive award to the Class Representative. At that hearing, the Court will be available to hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the Settlement.
The hearing may be postponed to a different date or time without notice, so it is a good idea to check this website or call 1-844-363-2454. If, however, you timely objected to the Settlement and advised the Court that you intend to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing, you will receive notice of any change in the date of such Final Approval Hearing.
20. Do I have to come to the hearing?
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 or comment, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you filed and mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay another lawyer to attend, but it’s not required.
21. May I speak at the hearing?
Yes. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must include in your letter or brief objecting to the Settlement a statement saying that it is your “Notice of Intent to Appear in Moeller et al. v. American Media, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:16-cv-11367-JEL-EAS.” It must include your name, address, telephone number and signature as well as the name and address of your lawyer, if one is appearing for you. Your objection and notice of intent to appear must be filed with the Court and postmarked no later than August 14, 2017, and be sent to the addresses listed in Question 17.
22. Where do I get more information?
The Notice summarizes the Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You may also write with questions to Magazine Subscriber Privacy Settlement Administrator, PO Box 43494, Providence, RI 02940-9827. You can call the Settlement Administrator at 1-844-363-2454 or Class Counsel at 1-866-354-3015, if you have any questions. Before doing so, however, please read the full Notice carefully. You may also find additional information elsewhere on this case website.