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The Action involves claims arising from electricity rates charged by Electricity Maine.
For purposes of Settlement only, the Court has conditionally certified a Settlement Class that is defined as:
o All individual residential and small business consumers who purchased electric supply from Electricity Maine at any time from January 1, 2011 through and including November 30, 2019.
Excluded from the Settlement Class are: (a) the Defendants; (b) officers, directors, shareholders, and employees of Defendants; (c) parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates of any Defendant; (d) any entity in which a Defendant has a controlling interest; (e) any attorneys representing Defendants in this Action, and their employees; (f) any judge to whom the Action is currently assigned or was previously assigned, and their staff; (g) Plaintiffs’ Counsel and their employees; and (h) any heirs, immediate family members, successors, and assigns of all such persons. If the Settlement does not become effective (for example, because it is not finally approved, or the approval is reversed on appeal), then the Action will continue.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants engaged in deceptive marketing practices that caused Plaintiffs to purchase electric supply from Electricity Maine at rates higher than they otherwise would have paid during the period from January 1, 2011 through and including November 30, 2019. Defendants deny those allegations and that they have any liability to Plaintiffs or the Settlement Class.
Counsel for both Plaintiffs and Defendants have determined that there is significant risk, disruption, and expense in continuing the Action. Among other issues, the issues in the case include:
(i) Whether Defendants acted improperly; (ii) whether Plaintiffs suffered any damages; and (iii) whether Defendants can prove other defenses to the Action. In particular, even if Plaintiffs convince the Judge or jury that they are entitled to damages, there is a substantial risk that a Judge or jury would not impose any damages. Even if Plaintiffs were to succeed in the trial court, any judgment would be at risk on appeal and the collectability of that judgment might be uncertain. After considering the risks and costs of further litigation, the Parties have concluded that it is in everyone’s best interest that the Plaintiffs’ claims be settled and dismissed on the terms of the Settlement. Plaintiffs and Class Counsel believe that the terms and conditions of the Settlement are fair, reasonable, adequate, and equitable, and that the Settlement is in the best interest of the Settlement Class.
The Settlement will provide up to $14,000,000 to pay claims to those residential and small-business customers who purchased electricity from Electricity Maine between January 1, 2011, and November 30, 2019. Settlement Class Members who submit Valid Claims shall be paid up to an amount equal to $0.0023565 per kilowatt hour purchased by the Claimant, as a customer of Electricity Maine, during the period of January 1, 2011 through and including November 30, 2019. In no event shall the Calculated Payment paid to any Claimant be less than $2.50. In order to file a Valid Claim, each Settlement Class Member must follow the directions on the Claim Form or submit a Claim through the online Claims Portal. Valid Claims will be paid only if the Court approves the Settlement.
Under the Settlement, Electricity Maine has also agreed to waive payments of amounts owed by Settlement Class Members for electricity purchased during the Class Period that were more than one hundred twenty (120) days overdue as of November 30, 2019.
To make a Claim, you must either (1) complete and mail the Claim Form received in your Notice Packet or (2) submit a Claim through the online Claims Portal.
Claim Forms and Claims submitted online through the Claims Portal must be received by the Settlement Administrator by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, September 10, 2020.
To receive a benefit, Settlement Class Members must submit a signed or e-signed certification that the Settlement Class Member (1) has read the Settlement Agreement and agrees to its terms, including the release; (2) is or was a named account holder with Electricity Maine during the Class Period; (3) did not have, and is not seeking to have, the account balance discharged due to bankruptcy or receivership; (4) has not filed to Opt-Out or otherwise sought to be excluded from the Settlement, but instead, hereby waives the right to Opt-Out and agrees to be bound by the Settlement; (5) has not already received a payment from Electricity Maine from the Electricity Maine account that is the subject of this Claim; (6) has provided information through the Claims Portal that is accurate and complete to the best of their knowledge; (7) has not been excluded from the Settlement Class under Section 3.1 of the Agreement; (8) will timely provide any additional information requested by the Settlement Administrator to validate a Claim; (9) understands that by submitting a Claim through the Claims Portal, the Settlement Class Member is deemed to have given a complete Release of all Released Claims; and (10) understands that Claims will be audited for veracity, accuracy, and fraud.
Payments will be issued only if the Court gives final approval to the proposed Settlement and after the final approval is no longer subject to appeal. Please be patient as this may take months or even years in the event of an appeal.
Filing a Claim does not provide a guaranteed payment. If the Court approves the Settlement and there are no appeals, then benefit payments will be distributed after the Settlement is no longer subject to appeal or review and the Settlement Administrator has completed its review and audit of all Claim Forms to validate the veracity of the Claims and prevent the payment of Claims which represent waste, fraud, or abuse. If the Court does not approve the Settlement, or if the Settlement is overturned on appeal, no payments will be issued.
The Court has appointed Thomas Hallett and Benjamin Donahue of Hallett, Whipple, Weyrens P.A., and Robert Cummins of The Cummins Law Firm as Class Counsel. Class Counsel can be reached at 800-898-4255 or www.hww.law.
To date, Class Counsel has not been compensated for any of their work on the Action since it was filed in 2016. As part of the Settlement, Class Counsel may apply to the Court to award them fees and costs in an amount to be determined, up to a total maximum amount twenty-eight percent of the maximum settlement amount, or $3,920,000, from Defendants. Defendants have the right to oppose Class Counsel’s application for such Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses.
In addition, the named Plaintiffs will apply to receive a Named Plaintiffs’ Enhancement Award of $5,000 each, which, if approved by the Court, will be paid by Defendants. This payment is designed to compensate the named Plaintiffs for the time, effort, and risks they undertook in pursuing litigation.
Class Counsel shall file their application for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses and the motion for Named Plaintiffs’ Enhancement Award, as well as the motion for final approval of the Settlement, within sixty (60) days after Notice is sent to Settlement Class Members. A copy of that application and the motions will be available on this Website. The Court will determine the amount, if any, of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses, as well as the amount of the Named Plaintiffs’ Enhancement Award. Any award of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses shall be in addition to, and not part of or subject to, the amount paid to Class Members or the cap on the Maximum Settlement Amount.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and you do not Opt-Out from the Settlement, you will be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court, and you will also be legally bound by the Settlement, including to the Release of claims. This means that in exchange for being a Settlement Class Member and being eligible for the benefits of the Settlement, you will not be able to sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Electricity Maine or any of the Released Persons that involves the Released Claims.
You will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs or attorneys’ fees concerning this Action if you stay in the Settlement Class.
Staying in the Settlement Class also means that you agree to the following terms of the Settlement:
Upon the entry of a Final Approval Order and without any further action by the Court or by any Party to the Agreement, the Settlement Class Members and Plaintiffs, including any person claiming rights derivative of any Settlement Class Member or Plaintiffs as their spouse, parent, child, heir, guardian, associate, co-owner, attorney, agent, administrator, executor, predecessor, successor, assignee, representative of any kind, shareholder, partner, director, employee or affiliate, shall be deemed to have, and by operation of the judgment shall have, fully, finally, and forever released, relinquished, and discharged against the Released Persons all Released Claims (including, without limitation, any unknown claims).
Without limiting the foregoing, the Release specifically extends to any claims that the Releasors do not know or suspect to exist in their favor at the time that the Settlement, and the Release contained in the Agreement, become effective. In connection with such Release, the Releasors acknowledge that they are aware that they may hereafter discover facts in addition to, or different from, those facts that they now know or believe to be true with respect to the subject matter of the Settlement, but that it is their intention to release fully, finally, and forever all Released Claims with respect to the Released Persons, and in furtherance of such intention, the Release of the Released Claims will be and remain in effect notwithstanding the discovery or existence of any such additional or different facts.
The full definitions of Released Claims and Released Persons and a full explanation of the scope of the Release are set forth in the Settlement Agreement.
You can Opt-Out from the Settlement if you wish to retain the right to sue Defendants separately for the Released Claims. If you Opt-Out, you cannot file a Claim or Objection to the Settlement.
To Opt-Out, you must mail an Opt-Out request to the Settlement Administrator at P.O. Box 34727, Philadelphia, PA 19101-4727. The Opt-Out requests must: (i) be signed by the Settlement Class Member who is requesting exclusion; (ii) include the full name, address, and phone number(s) of the Settlement Class Member requesting exclusion; and (iii) include the following statement: “I request to Opt-Out from the Settlement in the Electricity Maine Class Action.” The Opt-Out request must be received by the Settlement Administrator by the Opt-Out Deadline set forth above.
You can ask the Court to deny approval of the Settlement by timely filing an Objection with the Court. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger Settlement, but instead, the Court can only approve or disallow the Settlement proposed. If the Court denies approval to the entire Settlement, no benefit payments will be made, and the Action will continue.
You can also ask the Court to disapprove the requested payments to Plaintiffs and to their attorneys.
If you want to raise an Objection to the Settlement for the Court to consider at the Final Approval Hearing, you must submit that Objection, in writing, by the Objection Deadline set forth above. You may also file a notice of your intention to appear before the Court at the Final Approval Hearing on or before the Objection Deadline. Any Objection must (1) state whether the objection applies only to the objector, to a specific subset of the class, or to the entire class; (2) include a statement of such Settlement Class Member’s specific objection(s); (3) state the grounds for the objection(s); (4) identify any documents such objector desires the Court to consider; and (5) state whether the Settlement Class Member would like to present his or her position at a hearing on the merits of the Settlement.
Failure to include this information and documentation may be grounds for overruling and rejecting your Objection. All information listed herein must be filed with the Clerk of the Court, delivered by mail, express mail, personal delivery, or electronic filing, such that the Objection is received by the Clerk on or before the Objection Deadline set forth above.
If you raise an Objection, you may also file notice of your intent to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. No Settlement Class Member who fails to submit a notice of intent to appear will be permitted to offer testimony or argument at the Final Approval Hearing.
By filing an Objection, you consent to the jurisdiction of the Court, including to any order of the Court to produce documents or provide testimony prior to the Final Approval Hearing. You further consent to a deposition, if permitted by the Court, at the request of Class Counsel or Defendants’ Counsel prior to the Final Approval Hearing.
If you file an Objection to the Settlement, you still must timely submit a Claim according to the instructions described above.
You must also send a copy of your Objection and serve any notice of intention to appear before the Court at the Final Approval Hearing to the Settlement Administrator, Class Counsel, and Defendants’ Counsel:
Thomas F. Hallett
Benjamin N. Donahue
HALLETT WHIPPLE WEYRENS
6 City Center, Suite 208
Portland, Maine 04101
Robert P. Cummins
The Cummins Law Firm
Two Canal Plaza
P.O. Box 4600
Portland, ME 04112-4600
John J. Aromando
Katherine S. Kayatta
Sara A. Murphy
PIERCE ATWOOD LLP
Merrill’s Wharf, 254 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101
Melissa A. Hewey
Amy K. Olfene
Adrianne E. Fouts
84 Marginal Way, Suite 600
Portland, ME 04101
The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing to consider whether to approve the Settlement. The hearing will be held before the Honorable Judge Lance E. Walker. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 10:00 am Eastern Time. The hearing is open to the public. Consult this Website, or the Court docket for this Action, for updated information on the hearing date, time, and location.
You can inspect certain court documents connected with the Action in the Documents tab of this Website. Other papers filed in this Action are available by accessing the Court docket.
You can contact the Settlement Administrator at P.O. Box 34727, Philadelphia, PA 19101-4727.