Frequently Asked Questions
- WHY DID I RECEIVE THE NOTICE?
- WHAT IS THIS LAWSUIT ABOUT?
- HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM AFFECTED BY THE SETTLEMENT?
- WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE?
- WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOTHING?
- WHAT AM I GIVING UP TO GET A BENEFIT OR STAY IN THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?
- HOW DO I EXCLUDE MYSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT?
- IF I DO NOT EXCLUDE MYSELF, CAN I SUE DEFENDANT FOR THE SAME THING LATER?
- DO I HAVE A LAWYER IN THIS CASE?
- HOW WILL THE LAWYERS BE PAID?
- IS THE CLASS REPRESENTATIVE ENTITLED TO A SEPARATE PAYMENT?
- HOW DO I TELL THE COURT THAT I DO NOT LIKE THE SETTLEMENT?
- WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OBJECTING AND EXCLUDING?
- WHEN AND WHERE WILL THE COURT DECIDE TO APPROVE THE SETTLEMENT?
- DO I HAVE TO COME TO THE HEARING?
- MAY I SPEAK AT THE HEARING?
- ARE THERE MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT?
- HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION?
1. WHY DID I RECEIVE THE NOTICE?
A Court authorized the Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of this class action lawsuit and 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. Judge Hannah Lauck of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is overseeing this class action. The case is known as James Jenkins, et al. v. Equifax Information Services LLC, Case No. 3:15-cv-00443-MHL (the “Lawsuit”).
2. WHAT IS THIS LAWSUIT ABOUT?
Plaintiffs are consumers who requested a copy of credit file disclosures from Equifax. At the time of the requests, their credit file disclosures contained one or more public record items (such as a bankruptcy, lien or judgment). Equifax did not identify its public records vendor(s) as the source(s) of the public record information consumer credit file disclosures it provided to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued Equifax because they believe that this violated the FCRA.
How the Defendant Responded
Equifax denies all claims and allegations of wrongdoing asserted in the lawsuit and contends that it acted lawfully and in compliance with the FCRA at all times. Notwithstanding the denial of liability and alleged unlawful conduct, Equifax has decided it is in its best interest to settle the Lawsuit to avoid the burden, expense, risk, and uncertainty of continuing the litigation.
3. HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM AFFECTED BY THE SETTLEMENT?
You are affected by the settlement because Equifax’s records indicate that you received a disclosure from Equifax containing a public record between July 28, 2013 and April 14, 2016. Specifically, for the purposes of settlement only, the Court has provisionally certified a Settlement Class defined as follows:
All consumers in the United States who, from July 28, 2013, through April 14, 2016, received a credit file disclosure from Equifax containing a public record.
If you fall within the foregoing Settlement Class definition, you will be a Settlement Class Member unless you exclude yourself.
4. WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE?
If the Court approves the settlement, you are entitled to 18 months of EQUIFAX CREDIT WATCH GOLD WITH SCORES credit monitoring service at no cost to you. The retail monetary value of this service is $269.10. You will have online access to your Equifax credit report and a credit score at no cost to you for the entire 18 month period. Equifax will substantially change the manner in which it reports public records in the credit file disclosures of all consumers to include the name and address of the vendor that provides the public record and it will change the way that it handles consumer disputes of such records.
5. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOTHING?
If you do nothing, you remain in the class. If you provide Equifax with a valid email address or if it otherwise has one, you will receive an activation code for 18 months of credit monitoring from Equifax and you will be precluded from suing Equifax on a class or aggregate basis later regarding the claims settled by the Lawsuit. The settlement does not affect any individual claim you may personally have. Equifax will make the changes to how it reports public records.
6. WHAT AM I GIVING UP TO GET A BENEFIT OR STAY IN THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?
Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Settlement Class, which means that you cannot be part of any other class or aggregate lawsuit against the Defendant (or other parties released by the settlement) about the legal claims in this case and legal claims that could have been brought in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. If you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you will agree to a “Release of Claims,” stated below, which describes exactly the legal claims that you give up if you get settlement benefits. Basically, you are only releasing your right to sue on a class or aggregate basis for any violation of Federal or State law arising from or in connection with Defendant’s failure to list its public records vendor as the source of public records information in credit file disclosures. The settlement does not affect any individual claim you may personally have.
The “Release” contained in the Settlement Agreement states:
As of the Effective Date of the Settlement, the Plaintiffs and each Settlement Class Member, their respective heirs, executors, administrators, representatives, agents, attorneys, partners, successors, predecessors-in-interest, assigns and all persons acting for or on their behalf, shall be deemed to have fully, finally and forever released the Released Parties from all Released Claims described in Sections 2.18 and 2.19 above. Without limiting the foregoing, the Settlement Class Members will forever release, waive, and be barred from asserting any claims arising out of or relating to the claims in the Action on a class or other aggregate basis. This includes initiating or joining a lawsuit filed as a class action (certified or uncertified) or other aggregate proceedings, either as a named plaintiff or a class member. The Settlement Class Members do not release individual claims against Equifax arising out of or relating to the claims in the Action.
The “Released Claims” are as follows:
Any and all legal or equitable asserted on behalf of a purported class or otherwise asserted on an aggregate basis that were alleged (or that could have been alleged based on the same facts and circumstances) in the Action, the Complaint or any other complaints, pleadings or other papers filed or to be filed in the Action, including (but not limited to) any claims relating to the identification of a public records vendor engaged by Equifax as a source or furnisher of public records information. “Released Claims” do not include claims asserted by individual plaintiffs solely on behalf of himself or herself, provided that the claims are not asserted in a representative capacity of any kind.
7. HOW DO I EXCLUDE MYSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT?
If you do not want a benefit from this settlement, but you want to maintain all of your rights to sue or continue to sue the Defendant on a class or aggregated basis about the legal issues in this case, you must take steps to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class. This is called excluding yourself from – sometimes referred to as “opting out” of – the Settlement Class. Opting out does not guarantee that your own lawsuit will be successful and you would have to retain your own attorney.
To completely exclude yourself from the settlement, you must complete the attached Exclusion Request, selecting “I am opting out” where indicated, or send a letter stating that you want to be excluded from the settlement of James Jenkins, et al. v. Equifax Information Services, LLC. Be sure to include:
(1) the name of this lawsuit, James Jenkins, et al. v. Equifax Information Services, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-00443-MHL; (2) your full name, current address, and telephone number; (3) the following statement: “I request to be excluded from the class settlement in James Jenkins, et al. v. Equifax Information Services, LLC, United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Case No.
3:15-cv-00443-MHL”; and (4) your signature. You must mail your Exclusion Request so that it is postmarked no later than September 28, 2016, to:
Exclusion Requests - Jenkins v. Equifax Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 43427
Providence, RI 02940-4327
REQUESTS FOR EXCLUSION THAT ARE NOT POSTMARKED ON OR BEFORE SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 WILL NOT BE HONORED.
You cannot exclude yourself on the phone or by email. You also cannot exclude yourself by mailing a request to any other location or after the deadline.
If you exclude yourself, you should promptly consult your own attorney about your rights, as the time to file an individual lawsuit is limited.
8. IF I DO NOT EXCLUDE MYSELF, CAN I SUE DEFENDANT FOR THE SAME THING LATER?
Not on a class or aggregate basis. Unless you exclude yourself, you will give up the right to sue the Defendant as described above. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately. You may need to exclude yourself from this class action in order to continue your own lawsuit. Remember, is the deadline by which your Exclusion Request must be postmarked.
You have the right to have the attorney of your choosing (but at your own expense) advise you whether you should file a Request for Exclusion.
9. DO I HAVE A LAWYER IN THIS CASE?
The Class Representatives retained Leonard A. Bennett and Matthew J. Erausquin, Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C., 763 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Suite 1-A, Newport News, VA 23601, Kristi Kelly, Kelly & Crandall, 4084 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, and Jim Francis, Francis & Mailman James A. Francis, 100 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19110 to represent them. In connection with the preliminary approval of the settlement, the Court appointed these attorneys to represent you and other Class Members. Together, the lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be separately charged by these lawyers for their work on the case. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
10. HOW WILL THE LAWYERS BE PAID?
Class Counsel will ask the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs of up to $2,800,000, which the Defendant has agreed not to oppose. Any attorneys’ fee would be separately paid by Equifax. However, the Court may ultimately award less than the amount requested. The costs of this notice to you and the costs of administering the settlement will be paid by Defendant.
11. IS THE CLASS REPRESENTATIVE ENTITLED TO A SEPARATE PAYMENT?
The Class Representatives will ask the Court to approve a payment of an amount not to exceed $5,000 for each Class Representative as a service award for their efforts and time expended in prosecuting this case. The Court may ultimately award less than this amount. In addition, the nine named Plaintiffs are releasing Equifax from all remedies or damage claims in this case (not only those that Class Members would release).
12. HOW DO I TELL THE COURT THAT I DO NOT LIKE THE SETTLEMENT?
If you are a Settlement Class Member, you can object to the settlement if you do not think any part of the settlement is fair, reasonable, and/or adequate. You can and should explain the detailed reasons why you think the Court should not approve the settlement, if this is the case. The Court and Class Counsel will consider your views carefully. To object, you must send a letter stating that you object to the settlement in the Jenkins v. Equifax Information Services, LLC case. Be sure to include (1) the name of this lawsuit, Jenkins v.- Equifax Information Services, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-443; (2) your full name, current address, and telephone number; (3) a sentence stating that to the best of your knowledge, you are a member of the settlement class; (4) the factual basis and legal grounds for the objection to the settlement; (5) the identity of witnesses who you may call to testify at the Final Fairness Hearing; and (6) copies of exhibits that you may seek to offer into evidence at the Final Fairness Hearing. Mail these materials to each of these three different places so that they are postmarked no later than September 28, 2016.
|Clerk of the Court
United States District Court
701 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
|Leonard A. Bennett Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C.
763 J. Clyde Moms Blvd.,
Newport News, VA 23601
|Phyllis B. Sumner
King & Spalding LLP
1180 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
You also must file a statement with the Court that tells the Court the date that you also mailed or delivered copies of these papers to Class Counsel and Defense Counsel.
There are additional requirements necessary for your attorney if you retain one. These requirements are stated in the Settlement Agreement.
13. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OBJECTING AND EXCLUDING?
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the settlement. You can object only if you remain in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object to this settlement because the case no longer affects you.
14. WHEN AND WHERE WILL THE COURT DECIDE TO APPROVE THE SETTLEMENT?
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on October 28, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 701 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219. 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 listen to people who have submitted timely requests to speak at the hearing. The Court may also decide the amount that Class Counsel and the Class Representatives shall be paid. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to finally approve the settlement.
15. DO I HAVE TO COME TO THE HEARING?
No. Class Counsel will answer questions the Court may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it is not necessary.
16. MAY I SPEAK AT THE HEARING?
You 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 Intention to Appear in the Jenkins, et al. v. Equifax Information Services, LLC case.” Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be sent to the Clerk of the Court, Class Counsel and Defense Counsel, at the three addresses previously provided in frequently asked question 12 and must be received by the Clerk of the Court by September 28, 2016. You cannot speak at the hearing if you have excluded yourself.
17. ARE THERE MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT?
The notice summarizes the proposed settlement. Additional documents, such as the complaint, Settlement Agreement, and other important settlement documents, can be found on the Court Documents page of this website.
18. HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION?
If you have questions about the case, you can call toll free (877) FCRA-LAW (1-877-327-2529), or write to the Class Counsel, Leonard A. Bennett, Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C., 763 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Suite 1-A, Newport News, VA 23601.
PLEASE, DO NOT CALL THE COURT, THE CLERK, OR THE DEFENDANT REGARDING THIS SETTLEMENT.