Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is there a notice?
- What is this class action lawsuit about?
- Why is there a Settlement?
- How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?
- What does the Settlement provide?
- How and when can I get a payment?
- What am I giving up to get a payment or stay in the Class?
- How do I exclude myself from the Settlement?
- Do I have a lawyer in this case?
- How will the lawyers and class representatives be paid?
- How do I tell the Court that I do not think the Settlement is fair?
- When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
- May I speak at the hearing?
- What happens if I do nothing at all?
- How do I get more information?
1. Why is there a notice?
A Court authorized this 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 approve the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement and after any objections or appeals are resolved, an administrator appointed by the Court will make the payments that the Settlement allows. Because your rights will be affected by this Settlement, it is important that you read this Notice carefully.
If you received a Notice in the mail, it is because, according to Wells Fargo's records, you may have received one or more Automatic Calls from Wells Fargo in connection with a student loan between April 21, 2011 and December 19, 2015.
The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and the case is known as Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 1:15-cv-042310-SCJ (N.D. Ga.). The proposed Settlement would resolve all claims in this case. The people who sued are called the Plaintiffs and the company sued, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., is called the Defendant and is referred to in this Notice as "Wells Fargo."
2. What is this class action lawsuit about?
A class action is a lawsuit in which the claims and rights of many people are decided in a single court proceeding. Representative plaintiffs, also known as "class representatives," assert claims on behalf of the entire class.
The Class Representatives filed this Action alleging that Wells Fargo violated the TCPA by using an automatic telephone dialing system and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice to call or text cell phones without the prior express consent of the recipients.
Wells Fargo denies that it did anything wrong, or that this case is appropriate for treatment as a class action.
3. Why is there a Settlement?
The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or Defendant. Both sides agreed to a settlement instead of going to trial. That way, they avoid the cost of a trial, and the people affected will get compensation. The Class Representatives and their attorneys think the Settlement is best for all Class Members.
4. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?
The Settlement provides relief for all Class Members, who are described as all users or subscribers to a wireless or cellular telephone service within the United States who used or subscribed to a phone number to which Wells Fargo made or initiated any Call during the Class Period (i.e., from April 21, 2011 to December 19, 2015), in connection with a student loan, using any automated dialing technology or artificial or prerecorded voice technology, according to Wells Fargo's available records.
Excluded from the Class are Defendant and any affiliate or subsidiary of Defendant, and any entities in which any of such companies have a controlling interest, as well as all persons who validly opt out of the Settlement Class.
If you have questions about whether you are a Class Member, or are still not sure whether you are included, you can call 1-844-363-2463 or review this website for more information.
5. What does the Settlement provide?
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay a total settlement amount of $2,075,071.80, which will be used to create a Settlement Fund to pay Cash Awards to Settlement Class Members who submit a valid and timely claim, pay Class Counsel's attorneys' fees and costs, pay a service award to the Class Representatives, and pay costs and expenses of settlement administration.
Any remaining monies from uncashed Settlement Awards may be redistributed in further distributions to Class Members who submitted a valid and timely claim and cashed settlement checks. However, if a further distribution would result in less than $1 per qualifying claimant, the remaining monies will instead be donated to the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, as the cy pres recipient.
6. How and when can I get a payment?
Each Class Member who submits a valid and timely Claim Form will receive a Cash Award. A Cash Award is a cash payment. The final cash payment amount will depend on the total number of valid and timely claims filed by all Class Members. Class Counsel estimate that the amount of the Cash Award (while dependent upon the number of claims) may be within the range of $20 to $50. Eligible Settlement Class Members may make one claim per associated unique cellular telephone number called.
Claims may be submitted electronically via the Settlement Website , by calling the toll-free number 1-844-363-2463, or by mail to:
Prather Wells Fargo TCPA Settlement
P.O. Box 43464
Providence RI 02940
If you did not receive a Claim number via mail previously then you must file your claim by mail to:
Prather Wells Fargo TCPA Settlement
P.O. Box 43464
Providence RI 02940-3464
You may obtain a Claim Form from the website by selecting the "Print and Mail" option under the File a Claim section or you may request a Claim Form to be mailed to your address by calling the toll-free number 1-844-700-3707.
The Court will hold a hearing on August 30, 2017, to decide whether to approve the Settlement. If the Settlement is approved, appeals may still follow. It is always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time, perhaps more than a year. Please be patient.
7. What am I giving up to get a payment or stay in the Class?
If you are a Class Member, unless you exclude yourself, you can't sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Wells Fargo about the legal issues in this case, and all of the decisions and judgments by the Court will bind you.
For non-emergency calls or text messages made using an automatic telephone dialing system and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice without the prior express consent of the called party, the TCPA provides for damages of $500 per violation, or up to $1,500 for willful violations, plus an injunction limiting future conduct. However, Wells Fargo has denied that it made any illegal calls or sent any illegal texts to anyone, and in any future lawsuit it will have a full range of potential defenses, including that it had prior express consent to make the calls. In addition, the TCPA does not provide for attorneys' fees to prevailing individual plaintiffs. This Settlement permits Class Members the opportunity to obtain a smaller amount of money, risk-free.
If you file a Claim Form for benefits or do nothing at all, you will be unable to file your own lawsuit regarding the claims described in this Notice, and you will release Wells Fargo from any liability for the Released Claims defined below and in the Settlement.
Remaining in the Class means that you, as well as your respective assigns, executors, administrators, successors and agents, will release, resolve, relinquish and discharge each and all of the Released Parties from each of the Released Claims (as defined in the next paragraph). You further agree that you and they will not institute any action or cause of action (in law, in equity or administratively), suits, debts, liens, or claims, known or unknown, fixed or contingent, which you may have or claim to have, in state or federal court, in arbitration, or with any state, federal or local government agency or with any administrative or advisory body, arising from the Released Claims.
"Released Claims" mean any and all claims, causes of action, suits, obligations, debts, demands, agreements, promises, liabilities, damages, losses, controversies, costs, expenses and attorneys' fees of any nature whatsoever, whether based on any federal law, state law, common law, territorial law, foreign law, contract, rule, regulation, any regulatory promulgation (including, but not limited to, any opinion or declaratory ruling), common law or equity, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, asserted or unasserted, foreseen or unforeseen, actual or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, punitive or compensatory, as of the date of the Final Approval Order, that arise out of the Released Parties' use of an "automatic telephone dialing system" or "artificial or prerecorded voice" to contact or attempt to contact Settlement Class Members in connection with a student loan account during the Class Period. Released Claims include the claims of Wells Fargo deposit student loan account holders and non-account holders who are members of the Settlement Class. Notwithstanding the above, the Parties agree that any claims related to Calls other than those made in connection with a student loan are not released. Nothing in the Settlement shall be construed as a waiver of Class Members' rights to contact, in any way or for any purpose, any state or federal agency regarding the activities of any party.
The Settlement Agreement provides more detail regarding the release and describes the Released Claims with specific descriptions in necessary, accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully. You can talk to the law firms representing the Class listed in FAQ 9 for free, or you can, at your own expense, talk to your own lawyer if you have any questions about the Released Parties or the Released Claims or what they mean.
The release does not apply to Class Members who timely opt out of the Settlement.
If you don't want a payment from this Settlement, and you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue Wells Fargo on your own about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to exclude yourself from the Settlement.
8. How do I exclude myself from the Settlement?
To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 1:15-cv-04231-SCJ (N.D. Ga.). Be sure to include your full name, address, and telephone number. You must also include a statement that you wish to be excluded from the Settlement. You must mail your exclusion request postmarked no later than June 30, 2017, to:
Prather Wells Fargo TCPA Settlement
P.O. Box 43464
Providence RI 02940
If you ask to be excluded, you will not get any Cash Award and you cannot object to the Settlement. You will not be legally bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit. You may be able to sue (or continue to sue) Wells Fargo in the future. Although no other person may exclude you from the Settlement Class, nothing prohibits you from obtaining the assistance of another, such as a lawyer or family member, in preparing or submitting any individual exclusion.
9. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
The Court appointed the following law firms to represent you and other Class Members:
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and Burke Law Offices, LLC have been designated as co-lead class counsel. Meyer Wilson Co., LPA; Skaar & Feagle, LLP, Greenwald Davidson Radbil PLLC; Keogh Law Ltd.; Kazerouni Law Group, APC; Law Offices of Douglas J. Campion, APC; and Hyde & Swigart have been designated as additional class counsel.
All of these lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged separately for these lawyers' services. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
Additionally, you may enter an appearance through your own attorney if you so desire, but you do not need to do so.
10. How will the lawyers and class representatives be paid?
Class Counsel will ask the Court to approve payment of up to $622,522 (30% of the Settlement Fund) to compensate them for expenses and for attorneys' fees for investigating the facts, litigating the case, and negotiating the Settlement. Class Counsel will also request an award of $15,000 to each of the Class Representatives, as compensation for their time and effort. The Court may award less than these amounts. These payments, along with the costs of administering the Settlement, will be made out of the Settlement Fund.
Any objection to Class Counsel's application for attorneys' fees and costs and Class Representatives' payments may be filed, and must be postmarked, no later than June 30, 2017, which is 30 days following the filing of Class Counsel's motion for an award of attorneys' fees and costs and Class Representatives' payments.
You can tell the Court that you do not agree with the Settlement or some part of it.
11. How do I tell the Court that I do not think the Settlement is fair?
You can tell the Court that you don't agree with the Settlement or some part of it. If you are a Class Member, you can object to the Settlement if you do not think the Settlement is fair. You can state reasons why you think the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send or file a written statement with the Court saying that you object to the proposed Settlement in Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 1:15-cv-04231-SCJ (N.D. Ga.). Be sure to include your full name, address, current phone number, cellular telephone number(s) Wells Fargo called, the reasons you object to the Settlement, and whether you intend to appear at the Fairness Hearing on your own behalf or through counsel. All objections must identify any lawyer that represents you as to the Action or your objection. Any documents that you wish for the Court to consider must also be attached to the objection, and your objection should be sent to Class Counsel and counsel for Wells Fargo. Your objection to the Settlement must be filed no later than June 30, 2017.
The objection must be provided as follows to the following:
|Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Case No. 1:15-cv-04231-SCJ (N.D. Ga.).
Clerk of the Court
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
2211 United States Courthouse
75 Ted Turner Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
|Daniel M. Hutchinson
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Embarcadero Center West
275 Battery Street, 29th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
Alexander H. Burke
Burke Law Offices, LLC
155 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 9020
Chicago, IL 60601
Attorneys for Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class
John C. Lynch
David M. Gettings
Troutman Sanders, LLP
222 Central Park Ave., Suite 2000
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Attorneys for Defendant
12. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the Settlement. This Fairness Hearing will be held at 2:00 p.m. on August 30, 2017, at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, 75 Ted Turner Drive, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303, in Courtroom 1907. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check the website for updates. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and whether to award attorneys' fees, expenses, and an incentive award as described in FAQ 10, and in what amounts. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. At or after the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long it will take the Court to issue its decision. It is not necessary for you to appear at this hearing, but you may attend at your own expense.
13. 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 you intend to appear at the Fairness Hearing in Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case, No. 1:15-cv-04231-SCJ (N.D. Ga.). Be sure to include your full name, address, and telephone number. Your letter stating your notice of intention to appear must be postmarked no later than June 30, 2017, and be sent to the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, 75 Ted Turner Drive, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303. You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself.
14. What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you do nothing, and are a Class Member, you will not receive a payment after the Court approves the Settlement and any appeals are resolved. In order to receive a payment, you must submit a Claim Form. Unless you exclude yourself, you won't be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Wells Fargo about the legal issues in this case ever again.
15. How do I get more information?
The Notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement by calling the Claims Administrator toll-free at 1-844-363-2463, writing to: Prather Wells Fargo TCPA Settlement, P.O. Box 43464, Providence RI 02940; or by reviewing this website, where you will also find answers to common questions about the Settlement, a Claim Form, plus other information to help you determine whether you are a Class Member and whether you are eligible for a payment.
On the website, there is a complete notice of the Settlement in Spanish.
En el sitio web, hay una notificación completa del acuerdo en Español.