Heigl, et al. v. Waste Management of New York, LLC Frequently Asked Questions

Case No. 1:19-cv-05487-WFK-ST

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Questions

Answers

1. Why was the Notice issued?

A Court authorized the 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 give final approval to the Settlement.  The Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.

The Honorable Steven L. Tiscione, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, is overseeing this case. The case is called Heigl v. Waste Management of New York, LLC, Case No. 1:19-cv-05487-WFK-ST.  The person who sued is called the Plaintiff.  The Defendant is Waste Management of New York, LLC.

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2. What is a class action? 

In a class action, one or more people called class representatives (in this case, Julianne Heigl) sue on behalf of a group or a “class” of people who have similar claims.  In a class action, the court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.

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3. What is this lawsuit about? 

This lawsuit claims that Waste Management violated New York law by charging its customers an additional fee to receive a paper billing statement and/or pay by United States mail.  Waste Management denies the claims in the lawsuit and contends that it did not do anything wrong and denies that class certification is warranted or appropriate.  The Court did not resolve the claims and defenses raised in this action.  Nor has the Court determined that Waste Management did anything wrong or that this matter should be certified as a class action except if the Settlement is fully approved by the Court.  Rather, the Parties have, without admitting liability, agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the uncertainties and expenses associated with ongoing litigation.

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4. Why is there a Settlement? 

The Court has not decided whether the Plaintiff or Waste Management should win this case. Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement.  That way, they avoid the uncertainties and expenses associated with ongoing litigation, and Class Members will get compensation sooner rather than, if at all, after the completion of a trial.

The issuance of the Notice is not an expression of the Court’s opinion on the merit or the lack of merit of the Representative Plaintiff’s claims or the defenses in the lawsuit.  Both parties recognize that to resolve the issues raised in the lawsuit would be time-consuming, uncertain, and expensive.

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5. How do I know if I am in the Settlement Class?

The Court decided that everyone who fits the following description is a member of the Settlement Class:

All Waste Management residential subscription customers (i.e., individual consumers who subscribed to Waste Management’s residential services, but not including individuals whose residential waste collection service is/was provided by Waste Management pursuant to a contract awarded following a competitive bidding process) with a New York mailing address who from September 27, 2016 to and through August 27, 2020 were charged and paid Waste Management’s Administrative Charge.

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6. What does the Settlement provide? 

Monetary Relief:  A Settlement Fund has been created totaling $2,700,000.  Class Member payments as well as the cost to administer the Settlement, the cost to inform people about the Settlement, attorneys’ fees, and an award to the Class Representative, will come out of this fund (see Question 12). 

Prospective Relief:  Waste Management has agreed not to reinstate the Administrative Charge for its New York residential subscription customers unless New York General Business Law § 399-zzz is amended, repealed, ruled unconstitutional, or otherwise invalidated.  This will not be understood to prohibit Waste Management from offering a credit or other incentive for its New York customers to elect a specific payment or billing option.

A detailed description of the Settlement benefits can be found in the Settlement Agreement.

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7. How can I get a payment from the Settlement?

If you have an Active residential account with Waste Management, you will automatically receive a pro rata share of the Settlement Fund via a credit to your account, so long as you do not request to be excluded from the Settlement Class.  If you close your Waste Management account after August 27, 2020, then you will receive a pro rata share of the Settlement Fund in the form of a check issued to you, rather than via a credit to the account.  

If you have a Closed residential account with Waste Management, you must submit a timely and properly completed Claim Form no later than February 20, 2021.  Claim Form can be submitted two ways: electronically or by mail.  Your Claim Form can be submitted electronically no later than February 20, 2021 or by mail postmarked no later than February 20, 2021 and mailed to: Heigl v. Waste Management, c/o Settlement Administrator, PO Box 7767, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7767.  To request a paper copy, you may use the 'Contact' section of this website to send a request to the Settlement Administrator, or call toll free 1-844-271-4789.

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8. When will I get my payment? 

The hearing to consider the fairness of the Settlement is scheduled for January 6, 2021.  If the Court approves the Settlement, eligible Class Members whose claims were approved by the Settlement Administrator will receive their payment within 60 days after the Settlement has been finally approved and/or after any appeals process is complete.  Class Members with an active Waste Management account will receive their payments in the form of a credit to their account.  Class Members with a closed Waste Management account will receive their payment in the form of a check, and all checks will expire and become void 180 days after they are issued.

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9. What am I giving up if I stay in the Class? 

If the Settlement becomes Final, you will give up your right to sue Waste Management and other Released Parties for the claims being resolved by this Settlement.  The specific claims you are giving up against Waste Management are described in the Settlement Agreement.  You will be “releasing” Waste Management and certain of its affiliates, employees and representatives as described in Section 3.2 of the Settlement Agreement.  Unless you exclude yourself (see Question 13), you are “releasing” the claims, regardless of whether you submit a claim or not.  The Settlement Agreement is available through the “Documents” section of this website.

The Settlement Agreement describes the released claims with specific descriptions, so read it carefully.  If you have any questions you can talk to the lawyers listed in Question 11 for free or you can, of course, talk to your own lawyer if you have questions about what this means.

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10. What happens if I do nothing at all?

If you have an active residential account with Waste Management, once the Settlement becomes Final, you will receive a pro rata share of the Settlement Fund based on the total amount of Administrative Charges you paid via your account between September 27, 2016 and August 27, 2020.

If you have a closed residential account with Waste Management, you must submit a claim to receive a pro rata share of the Settlement Fund in the form of a check, based on the total amount of Administrative Charges you paid via your account between September 27, 2016 and August 27, 2020. If you have a closed Waste Management account and do nothing, you won’t get a share of the Settlement benefits and will give up your rights to sue Waste Management about the claims in this case.

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11. Do I have a lawyer in the case? 

The Court has appointed Bursor & Fisher, P.A to be the attorneys representing the Settlement Class.  They are called “Class Counsel.”  They believe, after conducting an extensive investigation, that the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class. You will not be charged for these lawyers.  If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your expense.

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12. How will the lawyers be paid? 

Any Class Counsel attorneys’ fees and costs awarded by the Court will be paid out of the Settlement Fund in an amount to be determined by the Court. The fee petition will seek no more than one-third of the Settlement Fund; the Court may award less than this amount.  Under the Settlement Agreement, any amount awarded to Class Counsel will be paid out of the Settlement Fund. 

Subject to approval by the Court, the Class Representative may be paid up to $5,000 from the Settlement Fund.

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13. How do I get out of the Settlement?

To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must mail or otherwise deliver a written request for exclusion stating that you want to be excluded from the Heigl v. Waste Management of New York, LLC, Case No. 1:19-cv-05487-WFK-ST Settlement.  Your letter or request for exclusion must also include your name, your address, your signature, the name and number of this case, and a statement that you wish to be excluded.  You must mail or deliver your exclusion request so that it is postmarked no later than November 6, 2020 to:  

Heigl v. Waste Management

c/o Settlement Administrator 

PO Box 7767

Philadelphia, PA 19101-7767


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14. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue Waste Management for the same thing later?

No.  Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Waste Management for the claims being resolved by this Settlement. 

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15. If I exclude myself, can I get anything from this Settlement? 

No.  If you exclude yourself, you will not receive a pro rata share of the Settlement Fund.

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16. How do I object to the Settlement? 

If you are a Class Member and do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you can object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it.  You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views.  To object, you must file with the Court a letter or brief stating that you object to the Settlement in Heigl v. Waste Management of New York, LLC, Case No. 1:19-cv-05487-WFK-ST and identify all your reasons for your objections (including citations and supporting evidence) and attach any materials you rely on for your objections. Your letter or brief must also include your name, your address, the basis upon which you claim to be a Class Member, the name and contact information of any and all attorneys representing, advising, or in any way assisting you in connection with your objection, and your signature. If you, or an attorney assisting you with your objection, have ever objected to any class action settlement where you or the objecting attorney has asked for or received payment in exchange for dismissal of the objection (or any related appeal) without modification to the settlement, you must include a statement in your objection identifying each such case by full case caption. You must also mail or deliver a copy of your letter or brief to Class Counsel and Waste Management’s Counsel listed below. 

Class Counsel will file with the Court and post on this website its request for attorneys’ fees October 23, 2020. 

If you want to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing to object to the Settlement, with or without a lawyer (explained below in answer to Question Number 20), you must say so in your letter or brief and file the objection with the Court and mail a copy to these two different places postmarked no later than November 6, 2020.

IF YOU DO NOT TIMELY MAKE YOUR OBJECTION, YOU WILL BE DEEMED TO HAVE WAIVED ALL  OBJECTIONS AND WILL NOT BE ENTITLED TO SPEAK AT THE FAIRNESS HEARING.  


Court

The Honorable Steven L. Tiscione

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York 

225 Cadman Plaza East, Room N505

Brooklyn, NY 11201


Class Counsel

Philip L. Fraietta

Bursor & Fisher P.A.

888 Seventh Avenue

New York, NY 10019

Waste Management’s Counsel

Philip G. Spellane

Harris Beach PLLC

99 Garnsey Road

Pittsford, NY 14534

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17. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself from the Settlement?

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 Class 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 Settlement no longer affects you.

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18. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement? 

The Court will hold the Final Approval Hearing at 2:00 p.m. on January 6, 2021 in Courtroom N504 at the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, NY 11201.  The purpose of the hearing will be for the Court to determine whether to approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class; to consider the Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and expenses; and to consider the request for an incentive award to the Class Representative.  At that hearing, the Court will be available to hear any timely filed objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the Settlement.

As Ordered by Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione on December 4, 2020, the Final Approval Hearing scheduled for January 6, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. will now take place via telephone.  Counsel shall call into the conference using dial-in number 888-557-8511 with access code 3152145. 

The hearing may be postponed to a different date or time without notice, so it is a good idea to check this website or call 1-844-271-4789 for updates. If, however, you timely objected to the Settlement and advised the Court that you intend to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing, you will receive notice of any change in the date of such Final Approval Hearing.  

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19. Do I have to come to the hearing?

No.  Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have.  But, you are welcome to come at your own expense.  If you send an objection or comment, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it.  As long as you filed and mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it.  You may also pay another lawyer to attend, but it’s not required.

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20. May I speak at the hearing?

Yes.  So long as you timely filed an objection to the settlement, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing, but do not have to.  To do so, you must include in your letter or brief objecting to the settlement a statement saying that it is your “Notice of Intent to Appear in Heigl v. Waste Management of New York, LLC, Case No. 1:19-cv-05487-WFK-ST.”  It must include your name, address, telephone number and signature as well as the name and address of your lawyer, if one is appearing for you.  Your objection and notice of intent to appear must be filed with the Court and postmarked no later than November 6, 2020 and be sent to the addresses listed in Question 16.  

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21. Where do I get more information? 

The Notice summarizes the Settlement.  More details are in the Settlement Agreement.  You can obtain a copy of the Settlement Agreement under the "Documents" section of this website.  You may also write with questions to Heigl v. Waste Management, PO Box 7767, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7767. You can call the Settlement Administrator at 1-844-271-4789 or Class Counsel at 1-646-837-7150, if you have any questions.  Before doing so, however, please read the full Notice carefully. You may also find additional information elsewhere on the case website.  Please do not telephone the Court to inquire about the Settlement or the claims process.

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This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel and controlled by the Settlement Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.

For more information please call 1-844-271-4789.

Documents

Please read for a full explanation of the settlement and your options and all applicable timelines.

Contact

Contact us with any inquiries, comments, and/or requests.

Submit Claim

Click here to safely and securely submit a Claim Form.

Important Dates

  • Exclusion Deadline

    Friday, November 6, 2020
    If you elect this option, you must mail your request for exclusion so that it is postmarked no later than Friday, November 6, 2020.
  • Objection Deadline

    Friday, November 6, 2020
    If you elect this option, you must mail your objection(s) and/or notice of intent to appear at the Final Approval Hearing so that it/they are postmarked no later than Friday, November 6, 2020.
  • Claim Form Deadline

    Saturday, February 20, 2021
    If you elect this option, you must submit your Claim Form online no later than Saturday, February 20, 2021, or mail your completed paper Claim Form so that it is postmarked no later than Saturday, February 20, 2021.
  • Final Approval Hearing Date

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021
    The Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. and will now take place via telephone. Counsel shall call into the conference using dial-in number 888-557-8511 with access code 3152145.  Please check this website for updates.  

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