OVERVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT
This website is merely to inform you about rights you may have regarding a proposed Class Action Settlement related to the vehicle you purchased from Panhandle Automotive, Inc. If you received the Notice, you have been identified through the records of Panhandle Automotive, Inc., doing business as Bay Lincoln Hyundai Mitsubishi or Bay Dodge Chrysler Jeep (hereinafter referred as “Panhandle Automotive”) as a potential member of a proposed Settlement Class in a lawsuit filed against Panhandle. The Settlement Classes include:
All persons in the State of Florida who purchased a vehicle from Panhandle Automotive between October 4, 2007 and October 4, 2011 and:
a) paid an Electronic Filing Fee of $49 or $147 as set forth on the Offer to Purchase in excess of the amount that Panhandle Automotive, Inc. actually paid to a third party for the Electronic Filing; and/or
b) paid a Delivery Fee as set forth on the Offer to Purchase without the disclosure language required by section 501.976 (18), Fla. Stats. appearing on the Sales Contract.
Plaintiff Jesse Page filed a putative class action in Bay County Circuit Court challenging two fees charged by Panhandle Automotive. First, Panhandle charged an Electronic Filing Fee of either $49 or $147 that appeared to be a pass-through fee, when Panhandle was actually retaining a large portion of this fee for itself. Second, Panhandle Automotive failed to include on its documents specific language regarding its “Delivery Fee” that is required by Florida Statute 501.976 (18).
Panhandle Automotive denies any wrongdoing and asserted various defenses to the above claims. Panhandle Automotive agreed to settle this matter to avoid the cost of additional litigation and does not admit any allegations made in the Complaint.
In exchange for the monetary benefits set forth in the Settlement, all Settlement Class members’ will release Panhandle Automotive from all liability arising from the claims set forth in the Complaint filed with the Court.
WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE?
Panhandle Automotive has agreed provide each Settlement Class member in the Electronic Filing Fee Class: (1) a check the amount of Twenty Dollars ($20) for those class members who paid the $49 Electronic Filing Fee; or (2) a check in the amount of Sixty Dollars ($60) for those class members who paid the $147 Electronic Filing Fee.
Panhandle Automotive has also agreed to provide each Settlement Class member in the Delivery Fee Class: (1) a check in the amount of Forty Dollars ($40) and Three Hundred Twenty Five Dollars ($325) worth of Panhandle Parts and Service Vouchers which can be used for goods and/or services at any Panhandle Automotive dealership for a period of two years from the date issued. The Vouchers shall be issued in thirteen (13) separate vouchers of twenty-five dollar ($25) each. The Vouchers are freely transferable if signed on the back by the original Class Member. The Vouchers may be used for goods, services, and/or towards the purchase price of a vehicle purchased at any Panhandle Automotive dealership. The Vouchers cannot be used to generate any cash payment back to the consumer in the event the entire value is not used. For example, if the service being performed costs $40, the consumer can elect to use one voucher worth $25 and pay the remaining $15 in cash or can use two $25 vouchers. In the event that two vouchers are used, the remaining unused portion of the voucher cannot be redeemed.
Plaintiff’s Counsel will also ask that the Court approve a payment of $12,000 to Jesse Page, the person who brought this action on behalf of the Class, for his services on behalf of the Class.
CLASS MEMBER OPTIONS
|Remain a member of the Settlement Class, in which case your rights will be determined and you will receive settlement benefits if approved by the Court.|
|Exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, in which case you will not be a member of the Settlement Class for any purpose and will not be bound by the settlement if approved by the Court.|
|Enter an appearance as a Settlement Class member in the litigation through your own counsel at your own expense.|
|Update your contact information||Click HERE to submit updated contact information|
|Preliminary approval||December 5, 2013|
|Deadline for filing exclusion requests||Postmarked By May 5, 2014|
|Final Fairness Hearing||May 12, 2014|
|Estimated date for issuing settlement awards||August 10, 2014|
PARTICIPATING IN CLASS AND SETTLEMENT
Settlement Class members who wish to participate in the settlement need not do anything to remain a Settlement Class member. The Settlement Class members who paid an Electronic Filing Fee will be sent (a) a check the amount of Twenty Dollars ($20) for those class members who paid the $49 Electronic Filing Fee; or (2) a check in the amount of Sixty Dollars ($60) for those class members who paid the $147 Electronic Filing Fee. Settlement Class members who paid a Delivery Fee without the required disclosure language in the sales contract will be sent (a) a check in the amount of Forty Dollars ($40) and (b) $325 worth of Vouchers, if the Court approves the proposed settlement. Settlement checks or vouchers will be issued within 30 days of the settlement becoming final and non-appealable.
All Settlement Class members who do not exercise their right to exclude themselves from the Settlement Class in the manner set forth below release Panhandle Automotive from any and all claims arising out of the causes of action advanced in the putative class action complaint.
As part of the settlement, Panhandle Automotive has agreed to pay Plaintiff’s Counsel up to Three Hundred Ninety Five Thousand dollars ($395,000) in attorneys’ fees and costs. The attorneys’ fees and costs will not reduce the payments to Settlement Class members. The class members do not need to pay class counsel. If you wish to hire your own attorney for this matter, you may do so at your own expense.
OPTING OUT OF CLASS AND SETTLEMENT
If you wish to be excluded from the class, and receive no settlement benefits, you must send a written Request for Exclusion to the Settlement Administrator, American Legal Claims, LLC P.O. Box 23650, Jacksonville, FL 32241-3650, stating your name, address, and the statement “Requests exclusion from the class in Page v. Panhandle Automotive, Inc., Case No. 11-CA-001611.” Requests for Exclusion must be signed and postmarked by May 5, 2014. Requesting exclusion from the class removes your ability to receive the benefits of the settlement set forth above.
FINAL FAIRNESS HEARING
The Court will hold a Final Fairness Hearing on May 12, 2014 at 1:00 P.M., Central Time at the Bay County Courthouse, 300 East 4th Street, Panama City, FL 32401 in chambers of the Honorable James Fensom, to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ATTEND UNLESS YOU ARE FILING AN OBJECTION, but you may do so if you wish.
OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT
As a settlement class member, you may appear at the Final Fairness Hearing to be heard in opposition to the fairness of the settlement, provided that you send a written Notice of Objection to the Settlement to Class Counsel, Brian W. Warwick, VARNELL & WARWICK, P.A., P.O. Box 1870, Lady Lake, FL 32158; and, Defense Counsel, Craig Blinderman, Kurkin Forehand Brades, LLP, 18851 NE 29th Ave, Suite 303, Aventura, FL 33180. Your written objection must include: (a) a notice of intent to appear; (b) a detailed statement of each objection asserted; (c) the grounds for each objection; (d) any documents and writings which you want the Court to consider; and (e) a list of witnesses you intend to call, if any. OBJECTIONS MUST BE POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN APRIL 28, 2014.
This is a summary Notice of the terms of the settlement. You may receive a complete copy of the Settlement Agreement and other settlement information at www.AmericanLegalClaims.com/PanhandleSettlement or by writing the Settlement Administrator, American Legal Claims, LLC, P.O. Box 23650, Jacksonville, FL 32241-3650.
For further details regarding Class member options, please review the Important Documents posted on this website.