1. How Do I Know If I Am Affected By The Settlement?
If you or your business were contacted by the Lonstein Law Office between August 4, 2012 and August 23, 2023 alleging commercial misuse of DIRECTV programming, you or your business have been identified as a member of the Settlement Class. If the Settlement is approved by the Court and you do not opt out, you will receive payment as a Settlement Class Member.
On August 23, 2023, the Court preliminarily certified—for settlement purposes only—a Class defined as all businesses and business owners in the United States who had DIRECTV services installed in their commercial establishment; who were subsequently audited by Defendant Signal Auditing, Inc.; and who at any time on or after the day four years prior to the date on which the original Complaint was filed (August 4, 2012) through August 23, 2023, received communications from Defendants Lonstein Law Offices, P.C., Wayne Lonstein, and/or Julie Lonstein (the “Lonstein Defendants”) on behalf of DIRECTV seeking money for allegedly unauthorized use of DIRECTV licensed programming, including NFL Sunday Ticket or any other DIRECTV-related programming (“Settlement Class”). Excluded from the Class are (a) the Honorable Judges Josephine L. Staton, Douglas F. McCormick, Carl West (Ret.) and any member of their immediate families; (b) any government entity; (c) any entity in which any Defendant has a controlling interest; (d) any subsidiaries, parents, affiliates, and officers, directors, employees, legal representatives, heirs, successors, or assigns of any Defendant; (e) counsel for the Parties; and (f) any persons who timely opt out of the Class.
If the Settlement does not become effective (for example, because it is not finally approved, or the approval is reversed on appeal), then this litigation will continue.
2. What Is The Lawsuit About?
Plaintiff Doneyda Perez, individually and on behalf of Oneida’s Beauty and Barber Salon filed this nationwide putative class action case on August 4, 2016 against Defendants alleging multiple claims, including civil violation of the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §1962(c). Named Plaintiffs Marlys and Danny Nissen, individually and on behalf of Mo’s One More Lounge, Joseph Angelo, individually and on behalf of Stuft Surfer Café, Gregory Laplante individually and on behalf of G and G Smog Test Center dba G and G Smog and Paul Holt individually and on behalf of 4 Dice Restaurant were added to the lawsuit on December 12, 2020 (“Class Representatives” or “Plaintiffs”). The Plaintiffs in this case allege that they were each contacted by the Lonstein Law Office on behalf of DIRECTV concerning allegations that they displayed DIRECTV programming in their businesses without a valid commercial license. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants conspired to sell businesses and business owners residential DIRECTV programming and then hired the Lonstein Law Office to pursue legal claims against those businesses for broadcasting DIRECTV programming without a valid commercial license. This is just a summary of the allegations. The Fourth Amended Complaint can be viewed on the Public Access to Court Electronic Resources System (PACER) at https://www.pacer.gov, Docket No. 498.
Defendants deny these allegations. Defendants contend that they have complied with the law in all respects and at all times and that the legal claims brought on behalf of DIRECTV were both valid and brought in good faith.
The parties engaged in numerous mediation sessions for over a year. After considering the risks, costs, benefits, and possibility of extended litigation, Plaintiffs and DIRECTV reached a settlement that resolves Plaintiffs’ claims as to all Defendants. Plaintiffs and Class Counsel have concluded that the terms and conditions of the Settlement are fair and reasonable and that the Settlement is in the best interests of the Settlement Class Members.
This lawsuit is a class action. A class action is a lawsuit in which the claims and rights of many people are decided in a single court proceeding. One or more people—sometimes called “class representatives”—sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of the people who have similar claims form a “class” and are “class members.” A settlement in a class action—if approved by the Court as fair, reasonable, and adequate—resolves the claims for all class members, except those who choose to exclude themselves from the class.
3. What Can I Get In The Settlement?
All Class Members qualify for a Settlement Benefit in the form of a monetary payment. There is no need to submit a claim in order to receive a Settlement Benefit. The amount of the Settlement Benefit will vary depending on whether the Class Member paid any money to settle claims against them and, if so, how much the Class Member paid.
To see your estimated Settlement Benefit go to the Check My Award and enter the unique ID provided to you in the Notice you received by mail or email.
The amount of your Settlement Benefit will be determined by calculating a pro rata share of the Total Settlement Fund ($9,400,000) after deduction of attorney’s fees, litigation costs, Administration Costs, and Incentive Awards approved by the Court (“Net Settlement Fund”). All class Members will receive a minimum payment of at least $25.00. The Net Settlement Fund will be allocated on a pro rata basis based on the dollar amount paid to the Lonstein Law Office by each Settlement Class Members according to an independent analysis of the Lonstein Law Office records.
The amount of your Settlement Benefit could increase if funds remain after settlement checks have been cashed due to some Settlement Class Members’ failure to cash their settlement checks before the expiration period or if the Court awards attorney’s fees, costs or Incentive Awards that are less than requested. Any funds representing uncashed checks by Settlement Class Members will first be used to pay for additional Settlement Administration costs, if any, and will then be distributed on a pro rata basis to those Settlement Class Members who cashed their Settlement Checks.
4. How Do I Get My Benefits?
You do not need to do anything to receive the Settlement Benefit identified above. A Final Approval Hearing will be scheduled for January 6, 2023. If the Court approves the Settlement and there are no appeals, Settlement Benefits will be distributed approximately 60 days after the Settlement is no longer subject to appeal or review, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. If the Court does not approve the Settlement, or if the Settlement is overturned on appeal, no Settlement Benefits will be issued.
You must visit the website and fill out an IRS Form W-9 for your business before your Settlement Benefit check can be mailed to you. Please note that Settlement Benefit checks must be cashed within 180 days after they are issued. Settlement Benefit checks that are not cashed prior to the expiration date listed on the check will no longer be valid, and no Settlement Benefit checks will be reissued. Any money remaining in the settlement fund as a result of the failure of Class Members to timely cash their Settlement Benefit checks will either be distributed to other Class Members or donated to a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization(s), to be agreed upon by the Parties and approved by the Court.
If you would like to change your address, go to the Address Update Form and enter the unique ID provided to you in the Notice you received by mail or email.
5. What Do Plaintiffs And Their Lawyers Get?
To date, Class Counsel has not been compensated for any of their work on this case. As part of the Settlement, Class Counsel may apply to the Court to award them up to $3,133,333,33 to pay them Attorneys’ Fees and $151,550.94 for litigation Expenses. Defendants have the right to object to Class Counsel’s Application for Attorneys’ Fees if it is for an amount that exceeds $3,133,333.33. Any Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses approved by the Court shall be paid from the Total Settlement Fund. If the Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses approved by the Court are less than requested, the difference will go to the Net Settlement Fund to pay the Settlement Benefits to Class Members.
In addition, the named Class Representatives in this case may apply to the Court for Class Representative Incentives. Plaintiffs contend that these payments are designed to compensate the named Class Representatives for the time, effort, and risks they undertook in pursuing this litigation to benefit the Class.
Plaintiffs will file their Application for Attorneys’ Fees, Expenses and Incentive Awards no less than 15 days prior to December 11, 2022, which is the date by which you must object to the Settlement. Once filed, a copy of Class Counsel’s motion for an award for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses and for a Class Representative Incentive Award (“Fee Motion”) will be available on the Settlement Website and the Public Access to Court Electronic Resources System (PACER) at https://www.pacer.gov. Settlement Class Members can object to the Fee Motion by the same deadline as their general objections to the Settlement are due which is December 11, 2022. The Court will determine the amount of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses as well as the amount of Class Representative Incentive Award.
6. What Happens If I Do Not Opt Out From The Settlement?
If you are a Class Member and you do not Opt Out from the Settlement, you will be legally bound by all orders and judgments of the Court, and you will also be legally bound to the Releases of the Claims in the Settlement. This means that in exchange for being a Class Member and being eligible to receive a benefit in the Settlement,you will not be able to sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuitagainst the Released Defendants (defined below), including DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC, DIRECTV Holdings, LLC, DIRECTV, LLC, Lonstein Law Office, P.C., Signal Auditing, Inc., Julie Cohen Lonstein, Wayne M. Lonstein that involves the same legal Claims as those released through this Settlement.
You will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs or attorneys’ fees concerning this case if you stay in the class.
Staying in the class means that you agree to the following terms of the Settlement that describe exactly the legal Claims that you give up:
a) Upon Final Approval, Class Members, including any person claiming derivative rights of any Class Member as the Class Member’s parent, child, heir, guardian, associate, co-owner, attorney, agent, administrator, executor, devisee, predecessor, successor, assignee, assigns, representative of any kind, shareholder, partner, director, employee or affiliate, shall have unconditionally, completely, and irrevocably released and discharged the Released Defendants, and each of them, any and all claims, demands, debts, liabilities, actions, causes of action of every kind and nature, obligations, damages, losses, costs, whether known or unknown, actual or potential, suspected or unsuspected, direct or indirect, contingent or fixed, arising out of, related to, or connected in any way to the allegations contained in the Fourth Amended Complaint and, more specifically, the prosecution of commercial misuse claims against Class Members by the Lonstein Law Office on behalf of DIRECTV or AT&T, including any auditing performed by Signal Auditing, regardless of whether or not such audit resulted in any action by the Lonstein Law Office that are alleged to have occurred within the Class Period.
b) With respect to the released claims set forth in the preceding paragraph, each Class Members shall, by operation of Final Approval and Judgment, be deemed to have waived the provisions, rights and benefits of California Civil Code Section 1542, and any similar law of any state or territory of the United States or principle of common law, but only with respect to the matters released as set forth Section 6(a) above. Section 1542 provides:
A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS THAT THE CREDITOR OR RELEASING PARTY DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE AND THAT, IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER, WOULD HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR OR RELEASED PARTY.
The Class Members understand and acknowledge the significance of these waivers of California Civil Code Section 1542 and any other applicable federal or state statute, case law, rule or regulation relating to limitations on releases. In connection with such waivers and relinquishment, the Class Members acknowledge that they are aware that they are assuming the risk that facts additional, different, or contrary to the facts which each believes or understands to exist, may now exist or may be discovered after the release set forth in this Agreement becomes effective, and Class Members shall, by operation of the Final Approval Order and Judgment, be deemed to have agreed that any such additional, different, or contrary facts shall in no way limit, waive, or reduce the foregoing releases, which shall remain in full force and effect.
c) The Parties shall be deemed to have agreed that the release set forth herein will be and may be raised as a complete defense to and will preclude any action or proceeding based on the Released Claims.
d) The term “Released Defendants” as used above includes all of the Defendants and each of their respective current and former parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, and current and former affiliated individuals and entities, legal successors, predecessors (including companies they have acquired, purchased, or absorbed), assigns, joint ventures, and each and all of their respective officers, partners, directors, owners, stockholders, servants, agents, shareholders, members, managers, principals, investment advisors, consultants, employees, representatives, attorneys, accountants, lenders, underwriters, benefits administrators, investors, funds, and insurers, past, present and future, and all persons acting under, by, through, or in concert with any of them.
e) Releases By the DIRECTV Defendants. Upon Final Approval, the DIRECTV Defendants, and including any person or entity claiming derivative rights of the DIRECTV Defendants, shall have fully, finally, unconditionally, completely, irrevocably, forever released, relinquished, and discharged the Released Class Members, and shall be forever barred from instituting, maintaining, or prosecuting any and all claims, liens, demands, actions, causes of action, rights, duties, obligations, damages or liabilities related solely to allegations of commercial misuse of DIRECTV services which are claimed to have occurred within the Class Period against any Released Class Members. The claims released in the foregoing sentence include any and all such claims by the DIRECTV Defendants and the DIRECTV Defendants’ attorneys, employees, agents, assignees, parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates to the fullest extent that the DIRECTV Defendants have authority to release them, and the DIRECTV Defendants represent they have not assigned any rights regarding allegations of commercial misuse or any other allegations related to the factual claims as pled in any of the complaints in the Litigation to any third party, agent or attorney (apart from ordinary collection of debts owed for failure to pay for AT&T or DIRECTV service). This release does not include any disputes, between the DIRECTV Defendants and any Settlement Class Members, that are outside of the allegations as alleged and pled in any of the complaints in the Litigation, and this release does not include any disputes, between the DIRECTV Defendants and any Settlement Class Members, arising out of the customer terms of service provided by the DIRECTV Defendants or payment to the DIRECTV Defendants for DIRECTV services provided. Similarly, this release shall not prohibit the DIRECTV Defendants’ ability to use their legally-appropriate processes to address Settlement Class Members’ commercial misuse, if any, through conversion of the Settlement Class Member accounts and/or termination of the account for events arising after the end of the Class Period. “Released Class Members” means all Settlement Class Members and each of their respective current and former parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, and current and former affiliated individuals and entities, legal successors, predecessors (including companies they have acquired, purchased, or absorbed), assigns, joint ventures, and each and all of their respective officers, partners, directors, owners, stockholders, servants, agents, shareholders, members, managers, principals, investment advisors, consultants, employees, representatives, attorneys, accountants, lenders, underwriters, benefits administrators, investors, funds, and insurers, past, present and future, and all persons acting under, by, through, or in concert with any of them.
The full text of the Settlement Agreement, which includes all of the provisions addressing the Released Claims, Released Defendants, and Released Class Members, is available HERE.
7. How Can I Exclude Myself From The Settlement?
You can Opt Out from the Class—that is, be excluded from the Class—if you wish to retain the right to sue Defendants separately for the Released Claims. If you Opt Out, you cannot obtain any benefits from the Settlement, which means you will not receive a monetary payment as part of the Settlement Benefit distribution. In addition, if you Opt Out, you cannot submit an Objection to the Settlement.
To Opt Out, you must submit an Opt-Out Form HERE, or mail or email an Opt-Out request to the Administrator at Perez et al v. DirecTV et al., c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 26170, Santa Ana, CA 92799 or email@example.com. An Opt-Out request from a Class Member that is an individual must be signed or emailed by the Class Member requesting exclusion, contain the Class member’s full name and address; and the following statement: “I request to be excluded from the proposed class settlement in Perez v. DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC, et al., Case No. 16-cv-01440-JLS-DFM (C.D. Cal.).” An Opt-Out request from a Class Member that is a business must be signed by a business representative duly authorized to act on behalf of the business, contain the full legal name of the business, the business’ address, the full name and title of the individual submitting the Opt-Out request on behalf of the business, and the following statement: “This business requests to be excluded from the proposed class settlement in Perez v. DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC, et al., Case No. 16-cv-01440-JLS-DFM (C.D. Cal.).” An Opt-Out request from a Class Member that is a business must also be accompanied by the following additional statement: “I, [name of business representative], represent and warrant that I have the legal authority and ability to exclude [name of business] from the proposed class settlement in Perez v. DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC, et al., Case No. 16-cv-01440-JLS-DFM (C.D. Cal.).”
To be valid, the Opt-Out request must be postmarked or received via email on or before the Opt-Out Deadline, which is December 11, 2022.
8. How Do I Object To The Settlement?
You can ask the Court to deny approval of the Settlement by timely filing an Objection with the Court. The Court cannot require a larger Settlement; the Court can only approve or disallow the Settlement. If the Court denies approval to the Settlement, no Settlement Benefits will be issued, and the lawsuit will continue.
You can also ask the Court to disapprove the requested payments to Plaintiff and to Class Counsel.
You may also appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either yourself or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. If you want to raise an objection to the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing, you must submit that objection in writing, by the Objection Deadline, which is December 11, 2022.
If you want to raise an Objection to the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing, you or your counsel must submit that Objection in writing to the Administrator at Perez et al v. DirecTV et al., c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 26170, Santa Ana, CA 92799 by the deadline December 11, 2022. The Administrator will provide your Objection to DIRECTV and Class Counsel and Class Counsel will file your Objection with the Court. Your Objection must be postmarked by the Objection Deadline set forth above. Any Objection must include: (a) a reference at the beginning to this case, Perez v. DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC, et al., Case No. 16-cv-01440-JLS-DFM (C.D. Cal.) and the name of the presiding judge, the Hon. Josephine L. Staton; (b) the name, address, telephone number, and, if available, the email address of the Person objecting, and if represented by counsel, of his/her counsel; (c) a written statement of all grounds for the Objection, accompanied by any legal support for such Objection; (d) whether he/she intends to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either with or without counsel; (e) a statement explaining the objectors’ basis for asserting that the objector is a member of the Settlement Class; and (f) a detailed list of any other objections submitted by the Class Member, or his/her counsel, to any class actions submitted in any court, whether state or otherwise, in the United States in the previous five (5) years. If the Class Member or his/her counsel has not objected to any other class action settlement in any court in the United States in the previous five (5) years, he/she shall affirmatively state so in the written materials provided in connection with the Objection to this Settlement. Failure to include this information and documentation may be grounds for overruling and rejecting your Objection.
If you submit an Objection, you may appear, either personally or through counsel, at the Final Approval Hearing in order to show cause why this Settlement and this Agreement should not be approved as fair, adequate, and reasonable or to object to any request for a Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses or Incentive Award. Class Members shall send notice of their intention to attend or speak at the final fairness hearing to Class Counsel and/or the Settlement Administrator no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the final fairness hearing date. The Settlement Administrator or Class Counsel should, in turn, file a notice no later than seven (7) days prior to the final fairness hearing date, providing the Court with a list of Class Members who wish to speak at the hearing, if any. Moreover, because the Court may conduct the final fairness hearing in this matter via Zoom, the Settlement Administrator and/or Class Counsel are responsible for providing Class Members who wish to attend the hearing with the Zoom information the Clerk will distribute in advance of the hearing If the Court makes the Final Approval Hearing available via Zoom or via other means of remote appearance, a remote appearance shall be considered equivalent to an in-person appearance, with all the rights and obligations applicable to in-person appearances.
If you fail to comply with these requirements, you may be deemed to have waived all objections and may not be entitled to speak at the Final Approval Hearing on January 20, 2023.
9. When Will The Court Decide If The Settlement Is Approved?
The Court has continued the Final Hearing to January 20, 2023, at 10:30 am, to determine: (1) whether the proposed Settlement should be approved as fair, reasonable, and adequate and should receive final approval; (2) whether Class Counsel’s Application for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses should be granted; and (3) whether the application for the Class Representative Incentive Award should be granted.
The hearing will be held in the United States District Court of the Central District of California, before the Honorable Josephine L. Staton, in the First Street U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 8A, on the 8th floor, located at 350 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, California 90012, or such other judge assigned by the Court. The courtroom is subject to change; any updated information will be posted on this website or the Court’s website. Virtual attendance may be possible; please check this website and the Court’s website at cacd.uscourts.gov for more information for updated information on the hearing date and time.
You can inspect many of the court documents connected with this case on the Settlement Website. You may access all papers filed in this lawsuit at the Courthouse, located at First Street U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 8A, on the 8th floor, located at 350 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, California 90012. You may also access all papers filed in this lawsuit via the Court’s docket in this case available through PACER (http://www.pacer.gov).
10. How Do I Get More Information?
You can contact the Settlement Administrator at Perez et al v. DirecTV et al., c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 26170, Santa Ana, CA 92799 or by telephone at (866) 606-5908 or review the Case Documents on this website.
You can also obtain additional information by contacting Class Counsel:
Katherine J. Odenbreit
Mahoney Law Group, APC
249 E. Ocean Boulevard, Suite 814
Long Beach, CA 90802
Telephone: (562) 590-5550
Lisa L. Clay
Lisa L. Clay, Attorney at Law
2100 Manchester Road, Suite 1612
Wheaton, IL 60187
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do not address any questions about the Settlement or Litigation to the Clerk of the Court or the Judge.