FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q. What is this lawsuit about?
A. On October 30, 2007, plaintiff Gary Serrano filed a class action lawsuit (the "Lawsuit") against Sterling Testing Systems in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Lawsuit alleged that Sterling Testing Systems violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") by intentionally reporting outdated adverse information that it is required to exclude from the consumer reports it sells, and that Sterling Testing Systems consciously adopted and maintained this policy and practice, thus depriving consumers of their important federal statutory right to have only current information, not outdated adverse information, reported about them.
Sterling Testing Systems has denied all charges and allegations of wrongdoing asserted in the Lawsuit, and contends that it acted lawfully and in compliance with the FCRA at all times. Notwithstanding the denials of liability and alleged unlawful conduct, Sterling Testing Systems has decided it is in its best interest to settle this Lawsuit on the terms set forth in the proposed Settlement Agreement to avoid further expenses, uncertainty, and inconvenience.
Q. Who is included in the class?
A. The class of persons on behalf of whom the Lawsuit was settled (the "Settlement Class") is defined as follows:
Q. Why was there a settlement?
A. Counsel for the plaintiff and the Settlement Class ("Class Counsel") have fully investigated the facts, analyzed the applicable law, and have considered such other sources of information as they deemed to be necessary to evaluate the fairness of the proposed settlement. Based on Class Counsel's review of the facts and the law and their evaluation of the substantial and immediate benefits which the settlement will confer upon the Class, Class Counsel have determined that the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate and in the best interests of the Class. The terms of the proposed settlement are summarized in the detailed notice that is available on this website.
Q. What does the settlement provide
A. Under the terms of the settlement, Sterling Testing Systems has agreed to pay nine hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($975,000) into an account (the "Settlement Fund") for the benefit of the Class to settle the statutory damages-only claims asserted against it in the Lawsuit, including claims for attorneys' fees and costs and any award to the Representative Plaintiff (see below).
In addition, Sterling Testing Systems represents that, subsequent to the initiation of this litigation, it ceased the practice complained of in the Lawsuit.
Sterling Testing Systems will also pay for all administrative expenses incurred in connection with the Settlement, including the costs associated with notice to Class members and administration of claims.
The balance remaining in the Settlement Fund after payment of attorneys' fees and expenses, and any award to the Representative Plaintiff, will be distributed to Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms on time ("Claiming Class Members"). Each Claiming Class Member's share will be determined by dividing the balance of the Settlement Fund by the number of Claiming Class Members, but in no event more than $1,000.00. Depending on the response rate, Class Counsel estimates that the pro rata share each Claiming Class Member will receive will be no less than $60.00, and more likely in the range of $400.00 to $600.00. The submission of a Claim Form and the acceptance of proceeds of the Settlement Fund shall not operate as a release by a Class member of any claim against Sterling for actual damages.
Q. How do I receive benefits from the settlement?
A. Only Settlement Class members who do not request exclusion from the Settlement Class are eligible to receive the benefits provided by the settlement. Unless you submit a timely and valid Claim Form, you will not receive either of the settlement benefits described above. Your Claim Form must be postmarked by January 15, 2010. However, regardless of whether you submit a Claim Form, you will be bound by the settlement and the Release described in Section V of the Notice if you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class.
The settlement benefits described above will not be provided to claimants unless and until the Court grants final approval to the settlement, any appeals from the Final Judgment Order have been completed and the deadline for submitting Claim Forms has passed.
Q. Who are the attorneys representing the Settlement Class?
A. The Court approved the following attorneys to represent the Class:
FRANCIS & MAILMAN, P.C.
100 South Broad Street, 19th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19110
David A. Searles, Esq.
DONOVAN SEARLES, LLC
1845 Walnut Street, Suite 1100
Philadelphia, PA 19103
You may learn more about Class Counsel by clicking here.
Q. How much will Class Counsel and the Class representative receive?
A. Settlement Class members will have no obligation to pay Class Counsel any attorneys' fees or expenses, and will have no obligation to pay for the administration of the settlement or the cost of notice. All such fees and expenses will be paid directly by Sterling Testing Systems.
Class Counsel shall apply to the Court for an award of reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses not to exceed thirty-five percent (35%) of the Settlement Fund. In addition, Class Counsel will apply for an individual settlement award for the Settlement Class representative in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) in recognition of his efforts in obtaining the settlement benefits for the Settlement Class.
Q. When and where will the Court decide?
A. The Court will hold a fairness hearing on December 16, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. at the United States Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, in a courtroom to be determined at a later time, to determine whether the proposed settlement should be approved as fair, adequate and reasonable, and also to determine the amount of attorneys' fees and expenses that should be awarded to Class Counsel and the amount of the individual settlement award to the Settlement Class representative. The hearing date may be changed without further notice to you individually. You do not need to appear in court.
Q. How do I submit my Claim Form?
A. To submit a Claim you must complete and mail the Claim Form that was included with the notice that you received in the mail. If you have lost your Claim Form, please contact the Settlement Administrator at (877) 287-1770.
Q. How do I exclude myself from the settlement?
A. you do not wish to be a Settlement Class member, you may exclude yourself from the Settlement Class by mailing a notice of exclusion post-marked not later than October 30, 2009 addressed to the Settlement Administrator at the address set forth below:
First Class, Inc., J10411
The notice of exclusion must state your name and address. If you choose to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, any claims you might have against Sterling Testing Systems will not be affected by the Lawsuit or the settlement. HOWEVER, IF YOU EXCLUDE YOURSELF, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RECEIVE THE BENEFITS OF THIS SETTLEMENT.
If you do not timely exclude yourself from the Settlement Class and the settlement is approved and becomes final, you will be deemed to have entered into the Release described in Section V of the Notice.