Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there a notice?
You have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit, and about your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement.
This case was filed in the North Carolina Wake County Superior Court and the case is called Erica Lewis and Joseph Lewis v. Bridge Property Management LLC et al., Case No. 18-CVS-9565 (Wake County, NC). The individuals who sued are called the Representative Plaintiffs, and the companies being sued, are called the Defendants.
What is this lawsuit about?
The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants unlawfully charged complaint filing fees, sheriff service fees, and attorneys’ fees (“Eviction Fees”) when filing summary ejectment/eviction actions against their tenants. Plaintiffs also alleged that Defendants unlawfully threatened to charge Eviction Fees through written correspondence sent on or around the 6th of the month to all tenants who had not made a complete rental payment (the “Initial Collection Letter”).
The lawsuit, as amended, brought four claims for relief: a violation of the North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act (N.C.G.S. § 42-46), a violation of the North Carolina Debt Collection Act (N.C.G.S. § 75-50 et seq.), a violation of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (N.C.G.S. § 75-1.1 et seq.), and for declaratory judgment.
The Defendants deny these claims, contend that they have numerous defenses to the action, and deny that class certification is required or appropriate.
Why is this a class action?
In a class action, one or more people, called “Representative Plaintiffs,” sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are in a “class” or “Settlement Class Members,” except for those who exclude themselves from the class.
Why is there a Settlement?
The Defendants deny that they did anything wrong. Both sides want to avoid the cost of further litigation. The Court has not decided in favor of the Representative Plaintiffs or the Defendants. The Representative Plaintiffs and their attorneys think the Settlement is best for everyone who is affected. The Settlement provides the opportunity for Settlement Class Members to receive Settlement benefits.
WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT?
How do I know if I am in the Settlement?
There are two types of Class Members in this Action:
A) Collection Letter Class Members
You are a Collection Letter Class Member if you are a natural person who at any point between July 30, 2014 and June 25, 2018, resided in any of the properties in North Carolina owned and/or managed by Defendants, and you received a letter that you would either be charged with Eviction Fees upon the filing of a summary ejectment action or that you owe Eviction Fees. A representative letter can be found here.
B) Eviction Fee Class Members
You are an Eviction Fee Class Member if you are a natural person who at any point between July 30, 2014 and June 25, 2018, resided in any of the properties in North Carolina owned and/or managed by Defendants, and you were charged and paid Eviction Fees.
Eviction Fee Class Members may also be Collection Letter Class Members if they meet the requirements of both Classes.
Excluded from the Settlement Classes are (1) employees, directors, officers, and agents of Defendants; (2) persons who exclude themselves from the Settlement Classes as provided in the Notice; (3) anyone who has previously executed a written release that related to the collecting or threatening to collect Eviction Fees; and (4) the Court, the Court’s immediate family, and Court staff.
What if I am still not sure if I am included in the Settlement?
What does the Settlement provide?
The Settlement provides two types of benefits: Monetary Relief and Non-Monetary Relief. Monetary Relief means $510,000.00 in cash. Non-Monetary Relief means the availability of the Consent Motion to Set Aside Judgment for Possession Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) and Stipulation of Dismissal. The Monetary Relief shall be used to pay all costs associated with the Settlement, including but not limited to (a) the costs of notice and administration of the Settlement, including for a Settlement Notice and Claims Administrator to process claims, objections, and opt-out requests; (b) the payment of valid approved claims; (c) attorneys’ fee awards (if any); (d) attorneys’ costs (actually incurred litigation expenses and other hard costs apart from fees); (e) service award (if any) to the Representative Plaintiffs; and (f) any other expenses.
What can I get from the Settlement?
A. Monetary Relief- Cash Fund
If you are a member of the Collection Letter Class, you must submit a valid and timely Claim Form either online here or print it off here and mail it to the address below by May 1, 2020. If you submit such a Claim Form, you are eligible to receive up to $50 if you certify under penalty of perjury that you received a Collection Letter threatening that Defendants would assess additional fees if you did not pay your full rent by a certain date. You may be eligible to receive up to $150 if you certify under penalty of perjury that you received more than one Collection Letter and provide the month and the year when those Letters were received. To qualify for the maximum award amount, you must provide specific information and the months and the years about at least three of the Collection Letters you received.
If you submit a valid and timely Claim Form, the amount you actually receive may be significantly different depending on how many valid claims are ultimately submitted by other Class Members. The available Settlement Fund will be distributed on a proportional basis once the Settlement becomes final. The Collection Letter Class has been allotted $35,000 of the Settlement Fund. The exact amount of compensation will be determined after administrative expenses, service award, and attorneys’ fees and costs are deducted.
You must submit a valid Claim Form to obtain Collection Letter benefits.
If you are a member of the Eviction Fee Class, you do NOT need to file a claim to obtain Eviction Fee benefits. Defendants’ records demonstrate how many instances in which you were charged and paid Eviction Fees to Defendants during the Relevant Time Period. Accordingly, each Eviction Fee Class Member may receive compensation of approximately $605, subject to pro rata increase or reduction based on Settlement Class Member participation.
If you are a member of the Eviction Fee Class, you may also be a member of the Collection Letter Class. You must submit a Claim Form if you want to obtain Collection Letter Class benefits in addition to Eviction Fee Class benefits for which you are eligible automatically as explained above.
The available Settlement Fund will be distributed on a proportional basis once the Settlement becomes final. The Eviction Fee Class has been allotted the remainder of the Settlement Fund and any unclaimed funds allotted to the Collection Letter Class. The exact amount of compensation will be determined after administrative expenses, service award, and attorneys’ fees and costs are deducted, and awards may be subject to a pro rata reduction if oversubscribed.
You do not need to submit a Claim Form to obtain Eviction Fee Class cash benefits.
B. Non-Monetary Relief
In addition to the Monetary Relief described above, any member of the Collection Letter Class and the Eviction Fee Class are eligible to request a Consent Motion to Set Aside Judgment for Possession Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(5) and Stipulation of Dismissal. This document will allow all Collection Letter Class and the Eviction Fee Class members to file a consent motion to remove a judgment for possession obtained by Defendants. It is each class members’ obligation to file the Consent Motion and Stipulation of Dismissal. Neither Defendants nor any of the properties managed by Defendants will be available to assist any class member with any aspect of this process.
In order to quality for this Non-Monetary Relief, all Collection Letter Class and Eviction Fee Class members must file a valid and timely claim form.
What am I giving up to stay in the Class?
Unless you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you cannot sue the Released Persons, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Released Persons about the claims released in this Settlement. It also means that all of the decisions by the Court will bind you. The Released Claims and Released Persons are defined in the Settlement Agreement and describe the legal claims that you give up if you stay in the Settlement Class. The Settlement Agreement is available here.
HOW TO GET A PAYMENT
How can I get a payment?
A. Monetary Relief- Cash Payments
Eviction Fee Class Members do not need to submit a claim to obtain Eviction Fee benefits. Defendants’ records will be used to determine your eligibility to participate in the Settlement. Eviction Fee Class Members may also be members of the Collection Letter Class. As an Eviction Fee Class Member, you must submit a Claim Form as explained below if you want to obtain Collection Letter Class benefits in addition to Eviction Fee Class benefits for which you are eligible automatically.
Collection Letter Class Members must complete and submit a timely Claim Form to be eligible to receive a payment. You can complete and submit your Claim Form online here. The Claim Form can be downloaded here, as well. You can also request a Claim Form be sent to you by sending a written request to the Claims Administrator by mail or by email.
B. Non-Monetary Relief
Collection Letter Class and Eviction Fee Class members must submit a timely and valid claim to obtain the Consent Motion to Set Aside Judgment for Possession Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(5) and Stipulation of Dismissal.
MAIL: Lewis v. Bridge Property Management, LLC
c/o Claims Administrator
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
If you do not submit a valid Claim Form by the deadline, you will not receive a payment, and your claims will be extinguished.
When will I get my benefits?
Benefits will be made after the Court grants “final approval” to the Settlement and after all appeals are resolved. If the Court approves the Settlement, there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved and resolving them can take time.
EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT
If you don’t want a payment from the Settlement, and you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue the Released Persons on your own about the claims released in this Settlement, then you must take steps to get out. This is called excluding yourself—or it is sometimes referred to as “opting out” of the Settlement Class.
How do I get out of the Settlement?
To exclude yourself, you must mail or email the Claims Administrator, including the following:
- A caption or title that identifies it as “Request for Exclusion in Erica Lewis and Joseph Lewis v. Bridge Property Management, LLC et al., Case No. 18-cvs-9565”.
- Your full name and address; and
- A statement that you wish to be excluded from the Settlement.
Your request for exclusion must be emailed or postmarked no later than May 1, 2020 to the Claims Administrator at:
Class Action Opt-Out
Lewis v. Bridge Property Management, LLC Settlement
PO Box 58220
1500 John F Kennedy Blvd,
Philadelphia, PA 19102
No person or entity may opt-out on behalf of another class member.
If you don’t include the required information or timely submit your request for exclusion, you will remain a Settlement Class Member and will not be able to sue the Released Persons about the claims in this lawsuit.
If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the Defendants for the same thing later?
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue the Defendants and Released Persons for the claims that this Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately. You must exclude yourself from this Settlement Class to continue your own lawsuit. If you properly exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you shall not be bound by any orders or judgments entered in the action relating to the Settlement Agreement.
If I exclude myself, can I still get a payment?
No. You will not get any money from the Settlement if you exclude yourself. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, do not send in a Claim Form asking for benefits.
OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT
How can I tell the Court if I do not like the Settlement?
Any class member who does not timely and properly opt out of the Settlement may object to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the proposed Settlement under North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Each Class Member who wishes to object to any term of this Agreement must do so, in writing, by filing a written objection with the Clerk of the Court and mailing it to settlement Class Counsel, and counsel for Defendants.
The written objection must include: (i) the objector’s name, address, and telephone number; (ii) the name of this Action and the case number; (iii) a statement of each objection; (iv) proof of class membership, and (v) a written brief detailing the specific basis for each objection, including any legal and factual support the objector wishes to bring to the Court’s attention and any evidence the objector wishes to introduce in support of the objection.
If the objection is made through an attorney, the written objection must also include: (1) the identity and number of the Settlement Class Members represented by objector’s counsel; (2) the number of such represented Settlement Class Members who have opted out of the Settlement Class; and (3) the number of such represented Settlement Class Members who have remained in the Settlement Class and have not objected. If the attorney intends to seek fees and expenses from anyone other than the objectors he or she represents, the attorney shall also file with the Court and serve upon Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel not later than fourteen days before the Final Fairness Hearing or as the Court may otherwise direct a document containing the following: (1) the amount of fees sought by the attorney for representing the objector and the factual and legal justification for the fees being sought; (2) a statement regarding whether the fees being sought were calculated on the basis of a lodestar, contingency, or other method; (3) the number of hours already spent by the attorney and an estimate of the hours to be spent in the future; and (4) the attorney’s hourly rate.
Objectors must also make themselves available for deposition by counsel for the parties between the time the objection is filed and a date no later than five (5) days before the Final Fairness Hearing, and the objection must include the dates when the objector is available for deposition.
Any Settlement Class Member who files and serves a written objection satisfying the requirements of this section, may appear at the Fairness Hearing, either in person or through personal counsel hired at the Settlement Class Member’s expense, to object to any aspect of the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement. Class Members, or their attorneys, intending to make an appearance at the Final Fairness Hearing must deliver to Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel and have file-marked by the Court, no later than thirty days before the Final Fairness Hearing or as the Court otherwise may direct, a Notice of Intent to Appear. The Notice of Intent to Appear must: (1) state how much time the Settlement Class Member anticipates needing to present the objection; (2) identify, by name, address, and telephone number all witnesses the Settlement Class Member proposes to have testify; (3) summarize in detail the anticipated testimony of all such witnesses; (4) identify all exhibits the Settlement Class Member intends to offer in support of the objection; and (5) attach complete copies of all such exhibits.
Your objection, along with any supporting material you wish to submit, must be filed with the Court, with a copy delivered to Class Counsel, Defendants’ Counsel and Claims Administrator no later than, May 1, 2020 at the following addresses:
CLASS COUNSEL DEFENDANTS’ COUNSEL COURT CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR
Scott Harris, Esq.
Patrick Wallace, Esq.
Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP
900 W. Morgan Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
Edward H. Maginnis
Karl S. Gwaltney
Maginnis Law, PLLC
4801 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 310
Raleigh, NC 27612
Meredith Norvell, Esq.
Michael Honeycutt, Esq.
Fisher & Phillips, LLC
227 W. Trade St., Suite 2020
Charlotte, NC 28202
North Carolina Wake County
316 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC 27601
Lewis v. Bridge Property Management, LLC et al.
c/o Settlement Administrator
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
What is the difference between objecting and excluding?
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object to the Settlement only if you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement. Excluding yourself from the Settlement is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Settlement. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you have no basis to object to the Settlement because it no longer affects you.
THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
Do I have a lawyer in this case?
Yes. The Court has appointed “Class Counsel” as designated in Question 15 to represent the Settlement Classes.
You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
How will the lawyers be paid?
Class Counsel intends to file a motion on or before May 13, 2020 seeking an award up to a third (33%) of the Monetary Relief in fees and approximately $3,367.80 in out of pocket expenses, as well as a service award in the amount of $5,000 for the Representative Plaintiffs, to be drawn from the Settlement Fund. The Court will determine the amount of fees and expenses, and service award.
THE COURT’S FAIRNESS HEARING
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on May 18, 2020 at 10:00am, at the Wake County Courthouse before an Honorable North Carolina Superior Court Judge, located at 316 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, North Carolina.
At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court will also consider how much to pay Class Counsel and the Representative Plaintiffs. If there are objections, the Court will consider them at this time. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.
Do I have to come to the hearing?
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions that the Court may have, but you may come at your own expense. If you submit an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you filed and mailed your written objection on time to the proper addresses, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.
May I speak at the hearing?
Yes. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intent to Appear.” Your request must be filed with the Clerk of the Court and served on Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel no later than May 1, 2020.
Any such request must state the name, address, and telephone number of the class member, as well as the name, address, and telephone number of the person that shall appear on his or her behalf. Any request for appearance that fails to satisfy these requirements, or that has otherwise not been properly or timely submitted, shall be deemed ineffective and a waiver of such class member’s rights to appear and to comment on the Settlement at the Fairness Hearing. Only the parties, Settlement Class Members, or their counsel may request to appear and be heard at the Fairness Hearing. Persons or entities that opt out may not request to appear and be heard at the Fairness Hearing.
IF YOU DO NOTHING
What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you are a Collection Letter Class Member and do nothing, you will not get a payment from the Settlement. Unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Released Persons about the legal issues in this case, ever again.
If you are an Eviction Fee Class Member and do nothing, you will receive a payment as described in Question 10. You won’t be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Released Persons about the legal issues in this case, ever again.
GETTING MORE INFORMATION
How do I get more information?
MAIL: Lewis v. Bridge Property Management, LLC
c/o Claims Administrator
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
TOLL-FREE: (844) 293-6703
Updates will be posted on this website as information about the Settlement process becomes available.
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR THE CLERK’S OFFICE CONCERNING THIS CASE.