Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Notice about?
- What is this lawsuit about?
- What is a class action?
- Why is there a settlement in this case?
- How do I know if I am part of the settlement?
- Are there exceptions to the Settlement Class?
- What benefit is available under the settlement?
- What did I give up by staying in the Settlement Class?
- How can I make a claim?
- How can I get out of the Settlement Class?
- How do I tell the Court that I do not like the settlement?
- What's the difference between "objecting" and "excluding" myself?
- What happened if I did nothing at all?
- When did the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
- What else was decided after the hearing?
- Do I have a lawyer in this case?
- How will the lawyers be paid?
- When will Settlement checks be sent out?
- I did not receive a check and believe I should have. What can I do?
- Where can I find more details about the settlement?
1. What is the Notice about?
The Court issued the Notice because you have a right to know about a settlement in the class action lawsuit, Suzanne Degnen, D.M.D., P.C. d/b/a Sunset Tower Family Dentistry v. Scheduling Institute, Inc. d/b/a Scheduling Institute, Jay M. Geier, Individually, and d/b/a Scheduling Institute, and John Does 1-10, No. Case No. 4:15-cv-00450-JAR, approved in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, located in St. Louis, Missouri. This lawsuit is based on certain Fax Advertisements Scheduling Institute sent to Settlement Class Members.
The Notice explains the settlement, including your legal rights, who is a Settlement Class Member, the benefit available to Settlement Class Members, and how to make a claim for a benefit.
2. What is this lawsuit about?
Plaintiff claims that Scheduling Institute violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. (the "TCPA") by sending fax advertisements that did not contain the required opt-out notice and without prior express consent of Plaintiff and the putative class members. Scheduling Institute denies wrongdoing or liability of any kind related to Plaintiff's claim and has agreed to settle the case for the sole purpose of avoiding the uncertainties, expenses, and time of further litigation.
3. What is a class action?
In a class action lawsuit, a person called a "Class Representative" (in this case, Suzanne Degnen, D.M.D., P.C. d/b/a Sunset Tower Family Dentistry) sues on behalf of other people called "Class Members" who have similar claims. In a class action, one court resolves in one case the claims of all Class Members except for those who choose to exclude themselves from the class. Plaintiff and Scheduling Institute have agreed to treat this case as a class action for purposes of this settlement. The Court has agreed for the reasons set forth in the Court's Preliminary Approval Order.
4. Why is there a settlement in this case?
The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiff or Scheduling Institute. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. That way, they avoid the risk and expense of continued litigation and trial, and Settlement Class Members who satisfy certain conditions will receive a monetary benefit without the risk that their claims ultimately may be found to lack merit if this case were to proceed through litigation. Plaintiff and Class Counsel believe this settlement is in the best interest of all Settlement Class Members.
5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?
The Court has decided that everyone who fits this description is a Settlement Class Member: All persons in the United States who:
- on or after February 5, 2011, through the date of preliminary approval
- were sent a telephone facsimile message of material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services by or on behalf of Defendant,
- with respect to whom Defendant cannot provide evidence of prior express invitation or permission for the sending of such faxes,
- with whom Defendant does not have an established business relationship, or
- did not display a clear and conspicuous opt-out notice on the first page stating that the recipient may make a request to the sender of the advertisement not to send any future advertisements to a telephone facsimile machine or machines and that failure to comply, within 30 days, with such a request meeting the requirements under 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(4)(v) is unlawful,
- lacked a telephone number for sending the opt-out request, or
- lacked a facsimile number for sending the opt-out request.
6. Are there exceptions to the Settlement Class?
Yes. The Class does not include: any employees of Defendant Scheduling Institute, its parent, affiliates, or subsidiaries; the Judge to whom the Action is assigned; and any member of the Judge's staff or immediate family.
7. What benefit is available under the settlement?
The settlement provides that Scheduling Institute will pay $950,000 into a Settlement Fund that will include money for Settlement Class Members who submit timely and valid claims, after deducting payment of the costs of administering the settlement, including the costs of the Notice and attorneys' fees, costs, and any incentive award that the Court may award.
Any money remaining in the Settlement Fund after deduction of costs of administering the settlement will be divided equally among Settlement Class Members who submit a timely and valid Claim Form. The amount of the cash benefit will be $100 unless the sum of the Settlement Costs and amounts to be paid to Qualified Class Members exceeds $950,000. If this happens, then the amounts paid to each Qualified Class Member will be reduced pro rata as required to ensure that the sum of the Settlement Costs and amounts to be paid to Qualified Class Members equals, but does not exceed, $950,000.
To the extent the sum of the costs of administering the settlement and payment to Settlement Class Members does not equal or exceed the Settlement Fund, one-half of the remaining funds in the Settlement Fund will be returned to Scheduling Institute and the other one-half of the remaining funds in the Settlement Fund will be distributed to the Qualified Class Members on a pro rata basis, with each Qualified Class Member receiving up to $1,500 (inclusive of the $100 payment described in the immediately preceding paragraph). If any balance remains in the Settlement Fund after allocating $1,500 to each Qualified Class Member, the remaining balance will be distributed to the cy pres recipient, Medical Aid for Children of Latin America, Inc. In no event shall a Settlement Class Member receive a settlement payment in excess of $1,500.
8. What did I give up by staying in the Settlement Class?
If you stayed in the Settlement Class, then you cannot sue Defendants or the Released Parties for claims that relate in any way to the use of a telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send a facsimile advertisement to Settlement Class Members. Since the Court finally approved the settlement,you are bound by the Settlement Agreement.
9. How can I make a claim?
The Claims Filing Deadline was May 31, 2016 and it is now too late to file a Claim Form. The Claims Filing Deadline has now passed.
10. How can I get out of the Settlement Class?
To get out of the Settlement Class, you needed to have sent a written request for exclusion postmarked by May 31, 2016. The exclusion deadline has now passed.
11. How do I tell the Court that I do not like the Settlement?
If you wished to object to the Settlement, you needed to have filed a written objection postmarked by July 1, 2016. The deadline for objecting has now passed.
12. What's the difference between "objecting" and "excluding" myself?
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class.
Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the settlement no longer affects you.
13. What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you did nothing, you are included in the Settlement Class, but you will not receive any monetary benefit. To receive a monetary benefit, you MUST have submitted a timely and valid Claim Form. If you did nothing, you will not be able to start, continue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Scheduling Institute or the Released Parties that relates in any way to the use of use of a telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send a facsimile advertisement to Settlement Class Members.
14. When did the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
The Court held a Fairness Hearing at 10 a.m. on July 14, 2016, at the United States Courthouse, 111 South 10th Street, St. Louis, MO 63102. At this hearing, the Court considered whether the settlement should be approved by the Court as fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Settlement was approved during this hearing. A copy of the Final Approval Order can be found on the Court Documents page of this website.
15. What else was decided after the hearing?
The Court approved Class Counsel's request for $285,000 as attorneys' fees and $760.23 for expenses and for a service award to the Class Representative of $5,000.
16. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
The Court appointed the following law firm to represent you as Class Counsel: Ronald J. Eisenberg and Robert Schultz of Schultz & Associates LLP. You do not have to pay Class Counsel. They asked the Court to award them their fees and expenses from the Settlement Fund in this case. Their contact information is below.
Ronald J. Eisenberg
Robert Schultz Schultz & Associates LLP
640 Cepi Drive, Suite A
Chesterfield, MO 63005-1221
(636) 537-4645 x108
17. How will the lawyers be paid?
Since the settlement was approved, Class Counsel will be paid their attorneys' fees and costs from the Settlement Fund in this case. Class Counsel filed a motion asking the Court for an attorneys' fees award of up to $285,000 or 30 percent of the entire settlement and for reimbursement of their costs and expenses incurred litigating this case in an amount costs up to $760.23. The Court approved the requested amount.
18. When will Settlement checks be sent out? .
Settlement checks will be mailed out by the end of October, 2016 to Class Members who submitted valid Claim Forms that were filed online or postmarked by May 31, 2016. To be valid, Claim Forms must be timely, submitted by Class Members and include a valid fax number. If you or your practice submitted more than one Claim Form, only one Claim will be paid. If you submitted a Claim Form and do not receive a check, it is because your Claim was not considered to be valid according to the criteria.
19. I did not receive a check and believe I should have. What can I do?
To be valid, Claim Forms must be timely, submitted by Class Members, and include a valid fax number. If you or your practice submitted more than one Claim Form, only one Claim will be paid. If you submitted a Claim Form and do not receive a check, it is because your Claim was not considered to be valid according to the criteria. If you believe this determination was in error, please write to the Degnen Settlement Claims Administrator at the below address and provide more information on your circumstances.
Degnen Settlement Claims Administrator
PO Box 40007
College Station, TX 77842-4007
20. Where can I find more details about the settlement?
The Notice only summarizes the proposed settlement. You can view the Settlement Agreement and Release, the Court's Preliminary Approval Order, the Final Approval Order, and other information relating to this settlement on the Court Documents page of this website. You may also ask questions by writing to Degnen Settlement Claims Administrator, PO Box 40007, College Station, TX 77842-4007.
PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR DIRECT ANY INQUIRIES TO THE COURT OR SCHEDULING INSTITUTE.