Solberg et al. v. Victim Services, Inc., et al.
Check Diversion Class Action
3:14-cv-05266-VC

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • Defendants’ records show that either (1) one or more of the Defendants sent you an initial collection demand between September 1, 2011 and May 7, 2015, and you subsequently paid one or more of the Defendants money; or (2) one or more of the Defendants sent you a collection demand between December 1, 2013 and May 7, 2015, although you may not have paid any money.

    The Court directed the Settlement Administrator to send you the notice by postcard and email if possible because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves it and after objections and appeals are resolved, an administrator appointed by the Court will make the payments that the settlement allows to class members who file claims. You will be informed of the progress of the settlement.

    This website explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.

    The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit is known as Solberg et al. v. Victim Services, Inc., et al., Case Number 3:14‐cv‐05266‐VC. The Judge assigned to the case is Judge Vince Chhabria.

  • This lawsuit is about whether Defendants’ use of letters on the letterhead of a California district attorney, and charging allegedly unlawful fees in connection with a dishonored check, violates the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the California Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) or constitutes negligent misrepresentation or fraudulent misrepresentation.

    Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated federal and California law by: (1) collecting and attempting to collect fees that were not permitted by law; (2) using district attorney letterhead, and otherwise giving the impression that they were the office of various California district attorneys; (3) using letters that explicitly and implicitly falsely threatened check writers with prosecution if the check writers did not pay fees for the “District Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program; and, (4) sending collection letters that did not include disclosures and notices of consumer rights required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Defendants deny all allegations made by Plaintiffs and have asserted various defenses to these claims.

  • In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this lawsuit Karen Solberg, Nancy Morin, and Narisha Bonakdar) sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. All these people are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The individuals who sued—and all the Class Members like them—are called the Plaintiffs. The companies and individuals they sued (in this case Victim Services, Inc., National Corrective Group, Inc., American Justice Solutions, Inc., Birch Grove Holdings, Inc., Mats Jonsson, and Karl Thomas Jonsson) are called the Defendants. One lawsuit resolves the issues for everyone in the Class—except for those people who choose to exclude themselves from the Class.

  • The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiffs or Defendants. The Plaintiffs think they could have won damages based on the money people paid to Defendants as check diversion program fees. The Defendants think the Plaintiffs would not have won anything from a trial. But there was no trial. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. That way, they avoid the risks and cost of a trial, and the people affected will get compensation. The Class Representative and the attorneys think the settlement is best for all Class Members

    The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California decided that this lawsuit can be a class action because it meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts.

  • The Court certified the following classes:

    UCL Class: All persons in California to whom the defendants sent an initial collection demand in connection with a returned check at any time from September 1, 2011, to May 7, 2015, and who subsequently paid any fees to the defendants in response to that letter.

    FDCPA Class: All persons in California to whom the defendants sent a collection demand in connection with a returned check from whom the defendants attempted to collect or collected money for checks written for personal, family, or household purposes, from December 1, 2013, to May 7, 2015.

    You are part of the UCL class if you got a letter on California district attorney letterhead from one or more of the Defendants regarding participation in a Bad Check Restitution Program between September 1, 2011 and May 7, 2015, and you paid any money to the Bad Check Restitution Program. You are part of the FDCPA class if, whether you paid money to Defendants or not, you were sent a letter on California district attorney letterhead from one of the Defendants regarding participation in a Bad Check Diversion Program from December 1, 2012 to May 7, 2015, and the dishonored check you allegedly wrote was for personal, family, or household purposes.

  • If you are unsure whether you are included, you can get free help by calling Class Counsel at 1‐855‐349‐7023.

  • Defendants have agreed to create a $1,100,000 fund to be divided among all Class members who submit a valid claim form. The fund will also be used to make payments to Class Counsel, the Class Representatives, and the Settlement Administrator, subject to approval by the Court.

  • Your share of the fund will depend on whether you paid any fees to the Defendants and, if so, the amount you paid in fees to the Defendants, the number of valid claim forms that Class Members submit, and when the Defendants sent you collection letters. Here’s how it works:

    There are about 21,000 Class Members who paid check diversion program fees to the Defendants. The amount you get from the Settlement is based on the amount you paid in fees to the Defendants and the total number of people who paid any fees that submit claims. People who paid more in fees will get a larger award. The amount you paid in fees to the Defendants (this does not include any amounts you paid toward the face value of dishonored check), are your total potential damages in the case. It is unlikely that you will get a payment for the all the fees you paid to Defendants. Instead, the Settlement Administrator will add up the amount of fees paid by all Class Members who submit claims and then divide the amount you paid by the total amount paid to determine your percentage share of the fund.

    There are about 29,000 Class Members who are within the FDCPA class based on the dates Defendants sent them collection letters. All FDCPA class members who file claims will receive an equal share of the $20,000 of the fund has been allocated for payment of FDCPA statutory damages. The amount is in addition to any award based on check diversion program fees you paid to Defendants.

    You must file a claim by August 16, 2021 to receive a payment.

    You can look up the amount you paid in fees to the Defendants by entering your Claim ID Number here.

  • To qualify for payment, you must submit a claim form. If you prefer to print the form and mail it to the Administrator, click here. Complete the form and submit it online or mail it to the Administrator, to be postmarked no later than August 16, 2021.

  • The Court will hold a hearing on August 19, 2021, to decide whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement after that, there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time, perhaps more than a year. If the date of the hearing changes or there are other updates about the status of final approval, this website will be updated with the most current information. Please be patient.

  • Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Classes, and that means that you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against National Corrective Group, Inc., Victim Services, Inc., American Justice Solution, Inc., Birch Grove Holdings, Inc., Mats Jonsson, or Karl Thomas Jonsson, about the legal issues in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. If you submit a claim form or do exclude yourself, you are agreeing to the release of claims in the Settlement Agreement, which describes exactly the legal claims that you give up if you get settlement benefits.

  • If you don’t want a payment from this settlement, but you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue National Corrective Group, Inc, Victim Services, Inc., American Justice Solution, Inc., Birch Grove Holdings, Inc., Mats Jonsson, or Karl Thomas Jonsson, on your own, about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out. This is called excluding yourself—or is sometimes referred to as opting out of the settlement Class.

  • To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must send a written letter to the Settlement Administrator at the address provided below. Your opt‐out request must include your name and address and should state that you do not want to be a Class Member. Opt‐out requests must be postmarked on or before the Opt‐out deadline: August 16, 2021.

    Opt-out requests may be mailed to:

    Check Diversion Class Action
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91400
    Seattle, WA 98111

    You cannot exclude yourself on the phone, by fax, or by email. If you ask to be excluded, you will not get any payment, and you cannot object to the settlement. You will not be legally bound by anything that happens in the lawsuit. You may be able to sue (or continue to sue) Defendants in the future.

  • No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue National Corrective Group, Inc., Victim Services, Inc., American Justice Solution, Inc., Birch Grove Holdings, Inc., Mats Jonsson, or Karl Thomas Jonsson for the claims that this settlement resolves. If you already have a lawsuit relating to Defendants check diversion program, you should speak to your lawyer in that case immediately. You must exclude yourself from this Class to continue your own lawsuit. The exclusion deadline is August 16, 2021.

  • No. If you exclude yourself, do not send in a claim form to ask for any money. But, you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against National Corrective Group, Inc., Victim Services, Inc., American Justice Solution, Inc., Birch Grove Holdings, Inc., Mats Jonsson, or Karl Thomas Jonsson.

  • The Court decided that the law firms Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC, Law Office of Paul Arons in Washington state, Gupta Wessler PLLC in Washington D.C., and Michael Ram of Morgan & Morgan in California are qualified to represent you and all Class Members. These law firms are referred to as “Class Counsel.”

  • Class counsel will ask the Court to approve payment of up to $275,000 (25% of the fund) in attorneys’ fees and up to $135,000 in expenses and payment of up to $3,000 each to Karen Solberg, Nancy Morin, and Narisha Bonakdar for their services as Class Representatives. The fees would pay Class Counsel for investigating the facts, litigating the case, and negotiating the settlement. The Court may award less than these amounts. The amounts the Court awards will be deducted from the settlement fund.

    Class Counsel’s motion for payment of attorneys’ fees, expenses, and service awards will be posted on this website no later than one business day after it is filed.

  • You can tell the Court that you don’t agree with the settlement or some part of it.

  • You can ask the Court to deny approval by filing an objection. You can’t ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or reject the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no settlement payments will be sent out and the lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you must object.

    Any objection to the proposed settlement should be in writing. If you file a timely written objection, you may, but are not required to, appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. The Court may allow you to appear at the Final Approval Hearing if you substantially comply with the written objection requirements or you explain why you did not submit your objection in writing. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for hiring and paying that attorney. All written objections and supporting papers should (a) clearly identify the case name and number (Solberg v. Victim Services, Inc., Case Number 3:14‐cv‐05266‐VC), (b) be submitted to the Court either by mailing them to the Class Action Clerk, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102 - 3489, or by filing them in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and (c) be filed or postmarked on or before August 16, 2021.

  • 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 settlement 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.

  • The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement. You may attend and you may ask to speak, but you don’t have to.

  • The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing at 2 p.m. on August 19, 2021 via Zoom video conference. Directions for appearing via Zoom are available here. The purpose of this hearing is for the Court to determine whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interest of the Class. At the hearing, the Court will hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the proposed settlement, including those related to the amount requested by Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and the service awards and damages payments to the Class Representatives. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

    Note: The date and time of the fairness hearing are subject to change by Court order. Any changes will be posted on this website. If the hearing is to be held in person rather than via video conference, that information will be added to this website.

  • No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. You are welcome to come to the hearing at your own expense. If you send an objection you don’t have to come to the Court to talk about it. As long as your written objection was filed or mailed on time, and meets the other criteria described in the Settlement Agreement, the Court will consider it. You may also pay a lawyer to attend, but you don’t have to.

  • You may ask the Court to speak at the hearing. To do so, you should send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear” in Solberg v. Victim Services, Inc., Case Number 3:14‐cv‐05266‐VC.” Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, that you are a Class Member, and your signature. If you are represented by your own attorney, he or she must file a notice of appearance with the court no later than ten (10) days before the Final Approval Hearing. Your Notice of Intention to Appear should be received at the address in Question 17, no later than ten (10) days before the hearing date, July 26, 2021. If you appear at the hearing, the Court may allow you to speak even if have not filed a notice of intention to appear.

  • To participate in this settlement and get any payment, you must submit a claim form. If you do nothing, you’ll get no money from this settlement. But, 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 National Corrective Group, Inc., Victim Services, Inc., American Justice Solution, Inc., Birch Grove Holdings, Inc., Mats Jonsson, or Karl Thomas Jonsson about the legal issues in this case.

  • This website summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You may review the Settlement Agreement here. You can also get a copy of the Settlement Agreement by writing to the Settlement Administrator at the address below:

    Check Diversion Class Action
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91400
    Seattle, WA 98111

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail

Terrell Marshall Law Group, PLLC
936 N. 34th Street, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98103