Martin, et al. v. Trott Law PC, et al. Case No. 2:15-cv-12838 (E.D. Mich.)
If you received a postcard Claim Form or learned of one addressed to you associated with this class action, then according to Trott Law PC’s records you were sent a Trott PC Foreclosure Letter during the Class Period and are a member of the Settlement Class. The Trott PC Foreclosure Letters were typically sent to the address of the property that the firm was initiating foreclosure upon. Members of your household may have received more than one postcard notice and Claim Form (each with a unique identification number). In that case, each person to whom a postcard was addressed is entitled to file a claim, and must exercise his or her rights separately.
The Court has directed that the postcard notice(s) and Claim Form(s) be sent to you, and that this Class Notice be made available to you, because as a potential member of the Settlement Class you have a right to know about the proposed Settlement before the Court decides whether to approve it. If the Court approves the Settlement, and all related objections and appeals are favorably resolved, the Defendants will provide the specified monetary and non-monetary relief to the Class described in this Class Notice and detailed in the Settlement Agreement. This includes the aggregate contribution of $7.5 million to the Settlement Common Fund as well as other specific non-monetary relief as described in FAQ 6.
This website explains generally the case, the Settlement, and your legal rights. An additional purpose of the postcard Notice and this website is to inform you of a hearing (the “Final Fairness Hearing”) to be held by the Court to consider the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the proposed Settlement, and to consider the application of Class Counsel for their attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of litigation expenses, as well as an application for service awards for the Class Representatives.
The Final Fairness Hearing will be held at 1:00 p.m. on September 27, 2018, before the Honorable David M. Lawson, Courtroom 716, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, 231, W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48226, to determine:
The issuance of this website is not an expression of the Court’s opinion on the merits of any claim in this case, and the Court still has to decide whether to approve the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, the payment described above will be made after all related appeals, if any, are favorably resolved. It is always uncertain whether such appeals can be favorably resolved, and resolving them can take time, perhaps more than a year.Back To Top
On August 11, 2015, a putative class action complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Trott Law PC, and David A. Trott, Case No. 2:15-cv-12838, alleging violations of federal and state fair debt collection laws. The original complaint was superseded by a Second Amended Complaint (Corrected) (“Complaint”), filed on August 8, 2016. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the form Trott PC Foreclosure Letters violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.; and the Michigan Regulation of Collection Practices Act, Michigan Complied Laws § 445.251, et seq.
The Complaint alleges that the Trott PC Foreclosure Letter (referred to as “fair debt letters”), violate both statutes in each of three ways:
Defendants have maintained throughout the case that the Trott PC Foreclosure Letter complies with federal and state fair debt laws in all respects and deny any wrongdoing.
The Parties have been actively engaged in litigation for the past two and a half years. Defendants have filed multiple motions to dismiss the claims or some of them. Plaintiffs filed a motion to strike numerous defenses. The Court has dismissed certain claims and denied motions to dismiss the claims being settled in this Settlement. The Court also struck certain defenses and declined to dismiss others. The Class Representatives have each been deposed and have supplied requested documents to Defendants. Counsel for the Parties have attempted to resolve numerous discovery disputes, and Class Counsel filed and obtained partial relief in a motion to compel documents requested of Trott Law PC. Class Counsel also subpoenaed and obtained documents from former employees of Trott Law PC. Class Counsel has deposed multiple employees of Trott Law PC and two former employees of the firm, and has received thousands of pages of documents produced in discovery by Defendants and non-parties. Trott Law PC has, at substantial expense, engaged in extensive compilation and review of potentially relevant electronically stored information (ESI) and has produced tens of thousands of pages of same to Class Counsel.
The Parties agreed to engage in settlement negotiations late in 2017, as encouraged by the Court. Settlement negotiations were facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator in the late winter of 2017-18. On February 16, 2018, February 27, 2018 and March 9, 2018, the Parties participated in mediation sessions with the mediator, followed by ongoing negotiations by telephone and email over the course of several weeks. This process led to a Settlement Agreement signed by the Parties on April 20, 2018, as subsequently modified by two additional documents filed with the Court.
The Settlement is the product of intensive, arm’s length negotiations between Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel, with the assistance of an experienced third-party mediator.Back To Top
In a class action, one or more plaintiffs, called “named plaintiffs,” or (where a class is certified) “class representatives,” sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. The Court has certified the Settlement Class, subject to approval after the final fairness hearing. The Class Representatives (Named Plaintiffs) are seeking relief on behalf of the Settlement Class. All of the individuals on whose behalf the Class Representatives are suing are “Class members,” and they are also referred to in this website as members of the Settlement Class. The Court resolves the issues for all Class members. The Honorable David M. Lawson, United States District Judge, is presiding over this Lawsuit.
In this case, the Named Plaintiffs are Brian Martin, Yahmi Nundley, and Kathleen Cadeau. The Court has appointed each as Class Representatives for purposes of this Settlement.Back To Top
Under the proposed Settlement, the Court will not decide the merits of the case in favor of either the Plaintiffs or the Defendants. By agreeing to a Settlement, both the Plaintiffs and the Defendants avoid the significant costs, risks, and delays of litigating the Lawsuit.
This Settlement is the product of extensive arm’s length negotiations between Class Counsel and the Defendants’ Counsel, including utilizing the services of an experienced mediator. Class Counsel believes that the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and in the best interest of the Class.Back To Top
The Court has certified this case as a class action for settlement purposes only. You are a member of the Settlement Class if you were sent a Trott PC Foreclosure Letter dated between August 11, 2009, and June 29, 2018. You should have received a postcard with Claim Form from the Claims Administrator if you are a member of the Settlement Class. Different individuals in the same household may each have received a separate postcard. In that case, each such individual is a Class Member according to Trott Law PC’s records.
If you believe you may be a member of the Settlement Class but did not receive a postcard, immediately contact the Claims Administrator by mail or phone and request that a claims package be sent to your current address. Please include the address of the property that was the subject of your Trott PC Foreclosure Letter. If you did not receive a postcard, but request a claims package, the Claims Administrator will first have to confirm from a review of the applicable records whether or not you are Settlement Class member.Back To Top
The Settlement provides specific monetary and non-monetary benefits to the Settlement Class.
The Settlement requires a $7,500,000 cash payment to a Settlement Common Fund, to be held initially in the trust account of the law firm representing Trott Law PC, and then transferred to an account to be established by the Claims Administrator upon final approval of the Settlement. This payment will fully satisfy the monetary requirements of this Settlement. Trott Law PC has also agreed to an injunction requiring certain negotiated changes to its fair debt letters for a period of five years.
Specifically, Trott Law PC will include the following sentence in its future fair debt letters: “An attorney has reviewed information supplied by our client in preparation of this letter.” Trott Law PC represents that this is consistent with its past practices. Additionally, if a Trott PC Foreclosure Letter mentions reinstatement, Trott Law PC will include the following sentence: “No timing requirement relating to reinstatement alters the homeowner’s rights under the FDCPA to dispute the debt or seek validation within the time provided by that statute.” After the Settlement becomes final, and during the injunctive relief period, Trott Law PC may, after reasonable notice to Class Counsel, seek leave of Court to modify the language required by the Settlement to reflect changes in the law or a change in Trott Law PC’s business practices.
Once the Settlement becomes effective, pro-rata cash payments from the Net Settlement Fund (the $7.5 million minus service awards, attorneys’ fees and expenses awarded by the Court and notice and claims administration expenses), will be mailed to Class members who timely submit valid claims. Checks not cashed after ninety days will revert 50% to the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Project, of the non-profit organization the Michigan Advocacy Fund; and 50% to Defendants.
The above description of the Settlement is only a summary. The governing provisions are set forth in the Settlement Agreement, which is available here.Back To Top
Each Class member who timely submits a valid claim, via return postcard or website claim form with a valid unique I.D. number, will be mailed a check for their pro rata share of the Net Settlement Fund after the “Effective Date.” The Effective Date is thirty-seven (37) days after the Court enters its Final Order approving the Settlement and the time to appeal has expired.
One pro rata distribution will be made for each unique I.D. associated with a timely claim. If different members of your household each received a postcard Claim Form—each with a different unique I.D. number—this means that according to Trott Law PC’s records each recipient is a Class Member. If this is the case each Class Member may submit a separate claim, or otherwise exercise his or her rights. You may not act on behalf of another Class Member unless you have been appointed legal guardian or other legal representative.
The Settlement also provides significant non-monetary injunctive relief as described in this website, which will become effective on the Effective Date as identified in the Settlement Agreement.Back To Top
You will receive a pro rata share of the Net Settlement Fund if you timely file a valid claim. Your share of the Net Settlement Fund will depend upon how many valid claims are timely filed. While the precise amount of your check is unknown at this time, Class Counsel estimate that each valid claim will be in the range of $100-$175. The actual distribution amount could be lower or higher than this range.Back To Top
The Court will hold a hearing on September 27, 2018, to decide whether to approve the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, there may be appeals. It is always uncertain how these appeals will be resolved, and resolving them can take time, perhaps more than a year. After any approval by the Court and assuming that any appeals are decided favorably, it may take several months for the Claims Administrator to pay the ultimate distribution amounts.Back To Top
If the Settlement is approved, the Court will enter a judgment, which will have the effect of releasing certain claims you may have. To “release” a claim means to give up the right to sue on it.
This judgment, when it becomes effective, will fully, finally, and forever release Trott Law PC and its predecessors and successors, past and present employees, agents, officers, directors, shareholders, insurers and partners, and David A. Trott and his heirs and successors (the “Released Parties”) from liability for all claims asserted or which could have been asserted based upon the facts alleged in the Complaint, including any claim under any federal or state law based upon or relating to lack of attorney meaningful review of Class member accounts prior to the sending of the Trott PC Foreclosure Letter; a contention that language in the Trott PC Foreclosure Letters regarding the timing of reinstatement requests or approvals overshadowed Class member’s validation rights under federal or state law; or that use of the phrase “Corporate Advance” in the Trott PC Foreclosure Letter was misleading; and also including any claim of individual responsibility of David A. Trott for use by Trott Law PC of the form template, or form language, in any version of the Trott PC Foreclosure Letters.
These claims described above are referred to as the “Released Claims.” See Section 13 of the Settlement Agreement.Back To Top
Andrew J. McGuinness, of Andrew J. McGuinness, Esq., and Andrew N. Friedman, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, represent Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class (“Class Counsel”). You will not be charged by any lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.Back To Top
At the Final Fairness Hearing, Class Counsel will apply for an award of attorneys’ fees, expenses, and service awards of $5,000 to each of the Class Representatives. The application for attorneys’ fees will not exceed $2,500,000 (33 & ⅓% of the Settlement Common Fund). These applications are subject to approval by the Court, which may award an amount less that the amount requested. Any approved fees, expenses, service awards, and claims administration costs will be paid from the Settlement Common Fund.
To date, Class Counsel have not received any payment for their services in prosecuting this case on behalf of the Settlement Class, nor have Class Counsel been reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses. The fees requested by Class Counsel would compensate them for their efforts in achieving the Settlement for the benefit of the Settlement Class and for their risk in undertaking this representation on a contingency basis, meaning that they would only receive payment to compensate them for their years of work and expense in this class action if it resulted in a benefit to you. The Court will determine the actual amount of the attorneys’ fees and expenses to be awarded.Back To Top
Yes. If you exclude yourself (“opt out”), you will not be eligible to receive any cash payment and will not be bound by any judgment or release of claims against the Defendants under the Settlement.
To opt out Settlement Class members must send by U.S. Mail, First Class postage prepaid, a request for exclusion to the Claims Administrator postmarked no later than September 3, 2018. The request for exclusion must:
The following statement shall be deemed to meet the requirement of subpart (c) of the preceding sentence: “I want to opt out of the Settlement Class certified in the Martin v. Trott Law PC case.”
Additionally, the request for exclusion must provide EITHER the unique I.D. number on a postcard sent by the Claims Administrator to the potential Settlement Class member, OR the address of the property to which Trott & Trott, PC, or Trott Law PC mailed the foreclosure/fair debt letter(s) to the potential Settlement Class member during the Settlement Class Period. Requests for exclusion that do not meet these requirements will not operate to exclude a Class member from the Settlement. Mass or class opt-outs will not be allowed.
Please mail requests for exclusion to:
Trott Class Action Claims Administrator
P.O. Box 3747
Portland, OR 97208-3747
You cannot request exclusion via phone or on this website.
Only Class members who do not opt out may object to the Settlement, as described in FAQ 16.Back To Top
No. Unless you exclude yourself from the Class by filing a timely and valid Request for Exclusion as detailed in FAQ 13, you give up any rights to bring a lawsuit or claim in any forum asserting any of the Released Claims against the Released Parties.Back To Top
No. You will, however, retain any right you may have to bring a lawsuit, to continue to pursue an existing lawsuit, or to be part of a different lawsuit asserting a Released Claim against a Released Party.Back To Top
Any member of the Settlement Class who wishes to object to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement, to any term of the Settlement Agreement, to the application for payment of attorneys’ fees and expenses, or to the application for service awards for the Class Representatives, may file an “Objection” in writing.
If you wish to file an Objection, the written Objection and supporting papers must:
The right to object to the Settlement must be exercised individually by a Class member and, except in the case of a deceased or incapacitated Class member or where a Class member is represented by counsel, not by another Person acting or purporting to act in a representative capacity.
The addresses for filing Objections with the Court and service on counsel are listed below. Your written Objection must be filed with the Court, and mailed to the counsel listed below, postmarked (or sent via fax or served via the Court’s ECF system to counsel) by no later than September 3, 2018:
|Court||Plaintiffs’ and Class Counsel||Defendants’ Counsel|
Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse
231 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226 www.mied.uscourts.gov
Andrew J. McGuinness
Andrew J. Mcguinness, Esq.
P.O. Box 7711
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
Fax: (734) 786-9935
Andrew N. Friedman
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Fax: (202) 408-4699
Counsel for Trott Law, PC:
Kathleen H. Klaus
Maddin, Hauser, Roth & Heller PC
28400 Northwestern Hwy
Southfield, MI 48034
Fax: (248) 359-7560
Counsel for David A. Trott:
Bruce L. Segal
Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP
39400 Woodward Ave
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
Fax: (248) 566-8483
UNLESS OTHERWISE ORDERED BY THE COURT, ANY MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS WHO DOES NOT OBJECT IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED HEREIN WILL BE DEEMED TO HAVE WAIVED ANY OBJECTION AND SHALL BE FOREVER FORECLOSED FROM MAKING ANY OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT AND THE APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND EXPENSES AND SERVICE AWARDS TO THE NAMED PLAINTIFFS.Back To Top
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the proposed Settlement. Objecting does not prevent you from participating and recovering money in the Settlement. However, you can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the Settlement no longer affects you.Back To Top
The Court will hold a Final Fairness Hearing at 1:00 p.m. on September 27, 2018, at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48226, Courtroom No. 716.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO ATTEND THE FINAL FAIRNESS HEARING.
At the hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. After the Final Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. The Court will also rule on the motions for attorneys’ fees and expenses and service awards to the Named Plaintiffs. We do not know how long the hearing or these decisions will take.Back To Top
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions Judge Lawson may have. You are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an Objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written Objection on time, it will be before the Court when the Court considers whether to approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate. At your own expense, you may also have your own lawyer attend the Final Fairness Hearing, but such attendance is not necessary.Back To Top
If you are a member of the Settlement Class and you have filed a timely Objection, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must file with the Court a letter or other paper called a “Notice of Intention to Appear at Fairness Hearing in Martin, et al., v. Trott Law PC and David A. Trott, Case No. 2:15-cv-12838.” Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be served on the attorneys listed in FAQ 16, postmarked or sent via fax no later than September 3, 2018, and must also be filed with the Clerk of the Court, postmarked no later than September 3, 2018.
The Final Fairness Hearing may be delayed by the Court without further notice to the Class. If you wish to attend the hearing you should confirm the date and time on this settlement website or check with Class Counsel.Back To Top
If you do nothing and you are a Class member, your claims against the Trott Law PC and David A. Trott will be released if the Settlement is approved. Remember, you can only obtain your Settlement benefit by completing and timely submitting the claim form.Back To Top
This website summarizes the proposed Settlement. Full details of the Settlement are set forth in the Settlement Agreement. You may read or download a copy of the Settlement Agreement here, or by calling the listed toll-free number, or by making a written request to the Claims Administrator. Copies of the Complaint, as well as the motion seeking preliminary approval of the Settlement and the Preliminary Approval Order, may be viewed at the Important Documents section of this website.
Do not call Trott Law PC with questions about the Settlement.Back To Top
You received the Notice because the claim form you submitted is was not complete, and we need additional information. Please follow the instructions on the notice, and fill it out completely. The document must be signed and returned by mail to the address below, postmarked no later than December 16, 2018.
Trott Class Action Claims Administrator
P.O. Box 3747
Portland, OR 97208-3747
The person to whom the initial settlement notice and claim form was addressed must sign it.