Youngblood v. City of Grovetown Settlement

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why was a notice isued?
  2. What is this lawsuit about?
  3. Why is this a class action?
  4. Why is there a Settlement?
  5. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?
  6. What does the Settlement provide?
  7. I am a Resident. Will I receive an actual Utility Payment Voucher?
  8. I am a Non-Resident. Will I receive an actual check?
  9. How do I Claim my Utility Payment Voucher?
  10. How do I claim my Non-Resident Payment?
  11. When will my Utility Payment Voucher be applied to my account?
  12. When will I receive my Non-Resident Payment?
  13. What am I giving up to stay in the class?
  14. How do I get out of the Settlement?
  15. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue Grovetown for the same thing later?
  16. If I exclude myself, can I get Utility Payment Vouchers or Non-Resident Payments from this Settlement?
  17. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
  18. How do I tell the Court if I don’t like the Settlement?
  19. What’s the difference between objecting and asking to be excluded?
  20. Do I need to make an appearance to talk about my objection?
  21. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
  22. Do I have to come to the hearing?
  23. May I speak at the hearing?
  24. What if I do nothing at all?
  25. How do I get more information about the settlement?
  1. Why was a notice isued?

    A Court authorized a notice because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of this class action, including the right to claim Class Benefits, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to give “final approval” to the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, and after any appeals are resolved, Utility Payment Vouchers or Non-Resident Payments will be mailed to Eligible Class Members who submitted a timely and valid Claim. The notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who may be eligible for them, and how to get them.

    Judge Michael Annis, of the Superior Court of Columbia County, State of Georgia, is presiding over this class action. The case is known as Deena Youngblood; Learning, Laughter, and Love, LLC; and Allen Transou v. City of Grovetown, Civil Action File No. 2016-CV-0413. The people who sued are called the “Plaintiffs” and the municipal corporation they sued (Grovetown) is called the “Defendant.”

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  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    This Action arose out of certain illegal billing practices at the City of Grovetown. Specifically, the Plaintiffs in this case allege that the water and sewer rates assessed by the city between September 1, 2011 and September 1, 2016 were illegally high, due to the failure of city officials to abide by Ordinance 9-23. These failures affected every customer of Grovetown’s utilities department.

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  3. Why is this a class action?

    In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of people who have similar claims, who are the “Class” or “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class. 

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  4. Why is there a Settlement?

    The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or Defendant. Instead, both sides agreed to settle. That way, they avoid the costs and risks of a trial, and the people affected will get relief. The Class Representatives and their attorneys think the Settlement is best for all Class Members. The Settlement is not an admission by Grovetown that it did anything wrong.

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  5. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

    All persons, who are or were formerly customers of the City of Grovetown’s water, wastewater, and stormwater utility and who were billed for water, wastewater, and/or stormwater utility services by the City of Grovetown between September 1, 2011 and September 1, 2016 are members of the class. “Persons” include business entities. Even if you are unsure whether you are a Class Member, you should submit a timely Claim Form if you do not wish to be excluded from the Class.

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  6. What does the Settlement provide?

    This Settlement will provide Utility Payment Vouchers equal to 32% of the 2015 water bill at the Class Member’s current residency, to all Class Members who are still residents of Grovetown and submit timely and valid Claim Forms. The Settlement will provide Non-Resident Payments of $50.00 to Class Members who meet the class definition but have moved away, and who submit timely and valid Claim Forms. The Settlement also provides injunctive relief. A Settlement Agreement, available here, describes all of the details about the proposed Settlement.

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  7. I am a Resident. Will I receive an actual Utility Payment Voucher?

    No. If a Class Member submits a timely and valid Claim Form, the Settlement Administrator will submit a Utility Payment Voucher on that Class Member’s behalf to the City of Grovetown. The City of Grovetown will then credit that Class Member’s utility account for the value of the voucher.

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  8. I am a Non-Resident. Will I receive an actual check?

    Yes. 

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  9. How do I Claim my Utility Payment Voucher?

    To ask for Utility Payment Vouchers, you must complete and submit a Claim Form.  Please read the instructions carefully and fill out the Claim Form entirely. You can mail your claim form by U.S. Mail, or submit it online, by facsimile, or by e-mail. If you are mailing your Claim Form by U.S. Mail, it must be postmarked by October 2, 2017, to:

    Youngblood v. Grovetown
    c/o KCC Class Action Services
    P.O. Box 43034
    Providence, RI 02940-3034

    Alternatively, you can  e-mail it to Info@grovetownwatersettlement.com, or fax it to 1-415-256-9756, each of which must be submitted by October 2, 2017 to be timely.

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  10. How do I claim my Non-Resident Payment?

    To ask for a Non-Resident Payment, you must complete and submit a Claim Form. Please read the instructions carefully and fill out the Claim Form entirely. You can mail your claim form by U.S. Mail, or submit it online, by facsimile, or by e-mail. If you are mailing your Claim Form by U.S. Mail, it must be postmarked by October 2, 2017, to:

    Youngblood v. Grovetown
    c/o KCC Class Action Services
    P.O. Box 43034
    Providence, RI 02940-3034

    Alternatively, you can e-mail it to Info@grovetownwatersettlement.com, or fax it to 1-415-256-9756, each of which must be submitted by October 2, 2017 to be timely.

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  11. When will my Utility Payment Voucher be applied to my account?

    The Utility Payment Vouchers will be credited to your City of Grovetown Utility Account after the Court grants “final approval” of the Settlement, and any appeals are resolved. If Judge Annis approves the Settlement after an upcoming hearing (see the section “The Court’s Fairness Hearing” in the Notice), there may be appeals. If there are any appeals, resolving them can take time. Please be patient.

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  12. When will I receive my Non-Resident Payment?

    Non-Resident Payments will be mailed directly to you after the Court grants “final approval” of the Settlement, and any appeals are resolved. If Judge Annis approves the Settlement after an upcoming hearing (see the section “The Court’s Fairness Hearing” in the Notice), there may be appeals. If there are any appeals, resolving them can take time. Please be patient.

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  13. What am I giving up to stay in the class?

    If the Settlement becomes final, you will be releasing the City of Grovetown for all the claims identified in the Settlement Agreement. These are called “Released Claims.” The Settlement Agreement is available here. The Settlement Agreement describes the Released Claims with specific descriptions, in necessarily accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully. Talk to your attorneys (see the section on “The Lawyers Representing You” in the Notice) or your own lawyer if you have questions about the Released Claims or what they mean.

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  14. How do I get out of the Settlement?

    To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from the Litigation. You must include the case number (No. 2016-CV-0413), your full name, address, and telephone number, and sign the request, stating your desire to be excluded from the Class. Your exclusion request will not be valid, and you will be bound by the Settlement, if you do not include this information in your exclusion request. You must mail your request for exclusion so that it is postmarked by May 12, 2017, to:

    Youngblood v. Grovetown
    c/o KCC Class Action Services
    P.O. Box 43034
    Providence, RI 02940-3034

    You can’t exclude yourself on the phone or at the website.

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  15. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue Grovetown for the same thing later?

    No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Grovetown for the claims that this Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Class to start your own lawsuit. Remember, any exclusion requests must be postmarked by May 12, 2017.

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  16. If I exclude myself, can I get Utility Payment Vouchers or Non-Resident Payments from this Settlement?

    No. If you exclude yourself, do not submit a Claim Form to ask for Utility Payment Vouchers or Non-Resident Payments.

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  17. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    Yes. The Court appointed certain attorneys, known as Class Counsel, to represent you and other Class Members. You do not have to pay them. They will be paid directly by Grovetown out of the Settlement Fund. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, and have that lawyer appear in court for you in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.

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  18. How do I tell the Court if I don’t like the Settlement?

    You can object to the Settlement if you don’t like some part of it. The Court will consider your views. To do so, you must file a written objection in the case, Deena Youngblood, et al. v. City of Grovetown, Civil Action File No. 2016-CV-0413 titled “Objection to Class Settlement in Deena Youngblood, et al. v. City of Grovetown, Case No. 2016-CV-0413.” You must include your full name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, the contact information for any attorney retained by you in connection with your objection, and your signature. You must also include the specific reasons why you object to the Settlement and the facts supporting your objection, any legal support or evidence to support your objection, the relief you are requesting, and whether you or your attorney, or any other witness, will be attending the hearing, along with a description of any witness’s testimony, and a list of any exhibits you may offer at the hearing along with copies of those exhibits. (See “The Court’s Fairness Hearing” in the Notice). You must file your objection by May 8, 2017 to the Court’s address below, and mail your objection so that it is postmarked by May 8, 2017 to the addresses listed below for Class Counsel and Defendant’s Counsel:

    Class Counsel

     Jeffrey F. Peil

    Ga. State Bar No. 967902

    Charles T. Huggins, Jr., P.C.

    7013 Evans Town Center Blvd.

    Suite 502

    Evans, Georgia 30809

    Travers W. Paine, III

    Ga. State Bar No. 559350

    Travers W. Paine III, P.C.

    560 Ninth Street

    Augusta, Georgia 30901

     

    Defendant’s Counsel

     

    Court Clerk

    Christopher N. Dube

    Dube & Dowdy Attorneys, PC

    P.O. Box 367

    304 Estelle Street

    Wrens, GA 30833 

     

    Cindy Mason

    Clerk of Superior Court of Columbia County

    640 Ronald Reagan Drive

    Evans, Georgia 30809

    The Court may overrule your objection. If you want Utility Payment Vouchers from the Settlement, even if you object to it, you must file a timely Claim Form.

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  19. What’s the difference between objecting and asking to be excluded?

    Objecting is telling the Court that you oppose approval of the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself 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 case no longer affects you.

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  20. Do I need to make an appearance to talk about my objection?

    No.

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

    The Court has scheduled a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 2 on June 26, 2017, at the Superior Court of Columbia County, Evans Justice Center, 640 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans, Georgia 30809. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Annis will listen to people who have asked to speak about an objection. At or after the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long this decision will take. The hearing may be moved to a different date without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check www.grovetownwatersettlement.com for updated information.

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  22. Do I have to come to the hearing?

    No. You do not have to attend the Fairness Hearing. Class Counsel will answer questions that Judge Annis may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to the Fairness Hearing 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 your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.

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  23. May I speak at the hearing?

    If you submitted an objection to the Settlement (see Questions 18-20 of the Notice), you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. If you or your attorney intends to speak at the Fairness Hearing, you must file a “Notice of Intention to Appear” in Deena Youngblood, et al. v. City of Grovetown (2016-CV-0413) stating such intention. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be received no later than May 13, 2017, and must be sent to the addresses listed in question 18 along with the following information:

    • name of the case (Deena Youngblood, et al. v. City of Grovetown (2016-CV-0413);

    • your full name, address, telephone number, and signature;

    • detailed statement of the specific legal and factual basis for each objection;

    • list of any witnesses you intend to call at the Fairness Hearing;

    • list of exhibits and copies of all exhibits you intend to introduce at the Fairness Hearing.

    If your attorney you have hired to represent you and your objection will speak at the Fairness Hearing, your notice of appearance must also include: (1) your attorney’s name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and state bar(s) to which the attorney is admitted; (2) any points and authorities in support of the objection the attorney will rely upon; and (3) a list identifying all objections such attorney has filed in class action Settlements from January 1, 2008 to the present, the results of such objection, including any court opinions ruling on the objections, and any sanctions by a Court in connection with filing an objection.

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  24. What if I do nothing at all?

    If you do nothing, you’ll get no Utility Payment Vouchers or Non-Resident Payments from this Settlement. And, unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to sue Grovetown for the claims resolved in this case.

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  25. How do I get more information about the settlement?

    The notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details are in a Settlement Agreement, which is available here.

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