Frequently Asked Questions
- What is this lawsuit about?
- Why was the notice issued?
- Am I a class member?
- What if I'm not sure whether I'm included in the settlement?
- What do I have to do to receive a cash payment from the settlement fund?
- How can I donate my refund to support city services?
- How much can I get from this settlement?
- When will I receive my cash payment?
- If You Move
- Excluding Yourself From The Settlement
- The Lawyers Representing You
- Administrative Expenses, Attorneys' Fees and Expenses, and Plaintiff Incentive Award
- Objecting to the Settlement
- The Court's Final Settlement Hearing
- Getting More Information
1. What is this lawsuit about?
The lawsuit, called Ardon v. City of Los Angeles, case number BC363959, was filed by a Los Angeles resident who believes that the City improperly required telephone service providers to collect tax on telephone services that were not legally taxable. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that prior to March 15, 2008, the Los Angeles UUT should have been collected only on local telephone service and long distance service where charges for calls varied by both time and distance. The plaintiff filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated taxpayers. The City denied and continues to deny that the UUT was improperly collected.
2. Why was the notice issued?
The Court issued the notice because you have a right to know about the proposed class action settlement which the Court has preliminarily approved and your rights and deadlines to act. If the Court grants final approval, and the settlement becomes final pursuant to its terms, valuable cash benefits will be distributed to Class Members who submit approved Claim Forms before June 19, 2016.
3. Am I a class member?
The Settlement Class includes:
All persons, including corporate and non-corporate entities wherever organized and existing, who paid telephone utility user taxes to the City of Los Angeles for residential landline service, business landline service and mobile telephone service utilized between October 19, 2005 and March 15, 2008, other than purely local service, teletypewriter exchange service, or long distance telephone service where the charge varied by both time and distance (the "Settlement Class"). The Settlement Class does not include prepaid wireless customers (which includes customers who purchased plans described as "pay as you go," "pay as you talk," "pay and go wireless," "prepay or burner phone service" and "no contract service") but does include prepaid wireless service providers, i.e., those that provide the above services to customers who prepay for wireless service. Purely local service means local telephone service provided under a calling plan that does not include long distance telephone service, or that separately states the charge for local service on the bill to customers. The Settlement Class does not include any person, including corporate and non-corporate entities wherever organized and existing, to whom the City has already paid a full refund of UUT paid for services utilized during the Class Period.
4. What if I'm not sure whether I'm included in the settlement?
The UUT was typically collected on residential and commercial landlines if the service address of the phone number was within City limits. For mobile service, the UUT was typically collected if the billing address was located within City limits. Mobile service with no billing address (i.e., prepaid mobile service) does not qualify. If you are not sure whether you or your business is included in the Class, you may call the toll-free number 1-888-643-6490 or send an email to info@LATaxRefund.com. You may also write with questions to the lawyers appointed to represent the members of the class whose contact information is contained in the notice. DO NOT CALL THE COURT.
5. What do I have to do to receive a cash payment from the settlement fund?
The person who paid the phone bill must submit a valid claim postmarked by June 19, 2016 and the claim must be approved by the Claims Administrator. Claims can be completed online or by printing a Claim Form from this settlement website or requesting one from the Claims Administrator and submitting it via U.S. Mail. You can claim a standard refund amount, and you may also provide proof of the tax paid to claim an actual refund amount.
You cannot claim an actual refund amount and a standard refund amount for the same kind of service (e.g., you cannot claim a standard mobile refund and also submit mobile bills for an actual refund amount claim). You may, however, claim the standard refund amount for one kind of service and claim the actual amount for another kind of service (e.g., e a standard refund claim for mobile and an actual refund claim for landline). For the standard refund claims, one standard refund will be issued for each account regardless of the number of phones affiliated with that account.
A. Standard Refund Claims: You may claim the following standard refund amounts by checking the boxes on the claim form for UUT you paid for each kind of service that you utilized during the time period October 2005-March 2008. No additional documentation is required to claim these amounts:
$50 - Mobile Telephone Service*
* Please note: Prepaid mobile telephone service does not qualify for a refund claim.
$30 - Residential Landline Service
$50 – Business Landline Service
You can check more than one box if you paid for more than one kind of telephone service (e.g., you can claim mobile and residential landline). For business claimants, only a business that was registered with the City of Los Angeles during the October 2005-March 2008 time period is eligible to claim the business landline service amount.
B. Actual Amount Refund Claims: You may also claim a refund based on the actual amount of UUT that you paid to the City of Los Angeles for telephone services utilized during the October 19, 2005-March 15, 2008 time period by submitting copies of your telephone bills or other proof of the amount paid.
You must submit bills or other proof of the amount paid for services utilized during the period October 2005-March 2008 and your Recognized Claim Amount will be based solely on the amount reflected on the proof submitted. For landline service, the Recognized Claim Amount will be 70% of the amount of the UUT paid to the City of Los Angeles. For mobile service the Recognized Claim Amount will be 100% of the amount of the UUT paid to the City of Los Angeles.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have recently agreed to assist Class Members in searching for evidence of the actual amount of UUT they paid from October 2005 to March 2008. The telephone service providers require specific information to search for your UUT records, as listed on the claim form.
You may also apply for reimbursement for any costs you paid to your telephone service provider to obtain copies of your telephone bills or other proof of payment of UUT in order to file a claim. You must file a claim if you are seeking reimbursement for these costs and will need to attach your receipts.
6. How can I donate my refund to support city services?
Instead of receiving a refund check, you may choose to donate any refund for which you are determined eligible to one of the following funds that support various City programs on the claim form you submit:
- The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association
- The Library Foundation of Los Angeles
- The Animal Welfare Trust Fund of the City of Los Angeles Animal Services
- The Los Angeles Parks Foundation
7. How much can I get from this settlement?
The actual amount paid will depend on the number of claims submitted and other factors. Please see the Settlement Agreement for additional information.
8. When will I receive my cash payment?
Payments cannot be made until the settlement is approved by the Court, becomes final pursuant to its terms, and the claims process and administration process is complete. Please be patient. Status updates will be posted on this website as they become available.
9. If You Move
If your claim is approved, your payment will be sent to the address you provide. If you change addresses, you must contact the Claims Administrator at 1-888-643-6490 or send an email to info@LATaxRefund.com to report any change of your address. Failure to report a change of address may result in you not receiving the monetary benefits of the settlement.
10. Excluding Yourself From 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 the City of Los Angeles about the taxes at issue in this lawsuit on your own, then you must exclude yourself by submitting online or by U.S. Mail postmarked no later than July 28, 2016 a letter saying that you want to be excluded from the settlement to: Ardon v. City of Los Angeles Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 30196, College Station, TX 77842-3196. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and signature. You must also verify that you are a Class Member by providing your telephone number(s) and address(es) during the Class Period. To submit an exclusion request online through email, please click here. You must attach a copy of your signed request in the format detailed above to the email you send. You have the option of creating a form here.
11. The Lawyers Representing You
The Court has appointed the following Class Counsel to represent the Class:
|Francis M. Gregorek
Rachele R. Rickert
Marisa C. Livesay
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP
750 B Street, Suite 2770
San Diego, CA 92101
Jonathan W. Cuneo
Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca, LLP
507 C Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
|Nicholas E. Chimicles
Timothy N. Mathews
Chimicles & Tikellis, LLP
361 West Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, PA 19041
Tostrud Law Group PC
1925 Century Park East, Suite 2125
Los Angeles, CA 90067
12. Administrative Expenses, Attorneys' Fees and Expenses, and Plaintiff Incentive Award
The Court will hold a hearing at 9:00 a.m. on October 24, 2016, at Central West Courthouse, 600 S Commonwealth Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90005 to decide whether the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable. You may attend at your own expense, and you may ask to speak, but you are not required to do so. If the Final Settlement Hearing is rescheduled, a notice of the new date or time will be posted on this website. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long the decision will take. Please be patient.
13. Objecting to the Settlement
You may only object if you are a Class member and you do not exclude yourself from the settlement. You can object on your own or you may hire a lawyer. You can tell the Court that you don't agree with the settlement or some part of it by sending a letter to the Claims Administrator so that it is received July 12, 2016, saying that you object to the settlement. Your objection must contain all of the following: (1) a heading referring to: Ardon v. City of Los Angeles, Case No. BC363959; (2) a statement of the legal and factual bases for your objection; (3) your name, address, telephone number, and email address; (4) copies of telephone bills dated during the Class Period or other evidence of membership in the Class; and (5) your signature and the signature of your counsel (if you are represented by counsel). The Court will consider your objection. If your objection is mailed in time, you do not have to attend the Final Settlement Hearing described below.
Any objection to the settlement must be served by first class mail, or email, or otherwise delivered to the Claims Administrator so that it is received by July 12, 2016. The Claims Administrator is Ardon v. City of Los Angeles Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 30196, College Station, TX 77842-3196.
14. The Court's Final Settlement Hearing
The Court will hold a hearing at 9:00 a.m. on October 5, 2016, at Central West Courthouse, 600 S Commonwealth Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90005 to decide whether the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable. You may attend at your own expense, and you may ask to speak, but you are not required to do so. If the Final Settlement Hearing is rescheduled, a notice of the new date or time will be posted on this website. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long the decision will take. Please be patient.
15. Getting More Information
The notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. All court records in this litigation, including complete copies of the Settlement Agreement, may be examined during regular court hours at the office of the Clerk of the Court, 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90005. You can also get a copy of the Settlement Agreement and other important information as well as answers to frequently asked questions by calling the Claims Administrator at 1-888-643-6490 toll free or you may send an email to info@LATaxRefund.com.
DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT DIRECTLY WITH ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT.