Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the lawsuit about?
  2. What benefits does the settlement provide?
  3. How can you get a payment?
  4. What other options do you have?
  5. The Final Fairness Hearing.
  1. What is the lawsuit about?

    The plaintiff, Caroline J. Smith (“Plaintiff”) sued Defendant alleging that Defendant improperly charged a fee to file an appearance to 1) attorneys, on behalf of their client(s) or 2) individual litigants on behalf of themselves during the period of April 17, 2019 to August 26, 2019, in instances where the attorney’s client(s) or the individual litigant had previously been granted a fee waiver upon a finding of indigence under 735 ILCS 5/5-105 and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 298, while that waiver was in effect in the case in which the filing fee was paid. The filed action is Caroline J. Smith v. Dorothy A. Brown, 19-cv-05238 (the “Action”). The Defendant denies the allegations, denies liability, and asserts numerous defenses. The Court has not decided who is right. The suit is a class action, meaning that the Plaintiff asked for relief not only for herself, but for all similarly-situated individuals and entities who paid the allegedly improper appearance fees. Without admitting liability or fault, Defendant has agreed to pay the amount of $72,403.05 into a Settlement Fund.
    The Settlement Fund will be used to pay Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms. The parties have entered into a Settlement Agreement which will be presented to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in the Action. Defendant has agreed, for purposes of settling the Action, that the period during which appearance or other filing fees were improperly charged was April 17, 2019 through and including September 30, 2020.

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  2. What benefits does the settlement provide?

    If the Court approves the settlement, every Class Member who submits a valid Claim Form will receive the filing fees identified on their respective Claim Form and approved by the parties.

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  3. How can you get a payment?

    If you are a Class Member and you want to receive a payment pursuant to the settlement, you must submit a Claim Form. Defendant’s records indicate that you may have paid the appearance or other filing fees enumerated above either as an attorney on behalf of your client or as an individual litigant on behalf of yourself, during the period of April 17, 2019 to September 30, 2020, in instances where the client or the individual litigant had previously been granted a fee waiver upon a finding of indigence under 735 ILCS 5/5-105 and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 298, while that waiver was in effect in the case in which the filing fee was paid.
    If you agree that the you paid during the period of April 17, 2019 to September 30, 2020 under the circumstances described in the immediately preceding paragraph, above, then mail the Claim Form to the address set forth below postmarked on or before August 19, 2021.
    Please note that in order to be included in this settlement, then you need to submit a Claim Form with supporting documentation showing the fees you paid during the Class Period under the circumstances described in the first of the two immediately preceding paragraphs, above. If you wish to submit a Claim Form, you must do so on or before August 19, 2021. You can fill out the Claim Form below or obtain a blank Claim Form and other information about the settlement and the claim submission process from Class Counsel, at the address or phone numbers below.

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  4. What other options do you have?

    If you would prefer not to be part of the settlement and not get a payment, you have the right to ask the Court to exclude you. To do so, you must complete and submit a request for exclusion by August 19, 2021. Unless you exclude yourself from the settlement, you will not be able to sue the Defendant for any claim made in the Action or released by the Settlement Agreement. To exclude yourself, fill out the Opt-Out Form, included with this notice. If you want to be part of the settlement but object to its terms, you or your attorney can submit written objections and/or appear at the Final Fairness Hearing discussed below. To do so, you must complete and submit your objection by August 19, 2021. Please contact Class Counsel to obtain more detailed information on these options.

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  5. The Final Fairness Hearing.

    The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, located at 219 S. Dearborn St., Courtroom 2325, Chicago, IL 60604, will hold a hearing on September 2, 2021, at 9:40 a.m., at which time it will consider any objections, decide what fees and Service Awards to award, and decide whether to approve the settlement. You may appear at the hearing, but you do not have to. You may hire your own attorney, at your own expense, to appear or speak for you at the hearing.

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