Baker, et al. v. Equity Residential Management, L.L.C., et al.
Equity Walden Park Settlement
1:18-cv-11175-PBS

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • The Court ordered Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit of which you may be a Class member, and about your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement.

    The Court approved the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing held on November 4, 2019, and Equity will pay up to $500,000.00 in Class Relief.  The Claims Administrator will administer a process by which Class Members who file valid and timely claims will receive cash payments from the Settlement. The Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, the benefits available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.

    The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the case is entitled Baker, et al. v. Equity Residential Management, L.L.C., et al., C.A. No. 1:18-cv-11175-PBS.  Equity Residential Management, L.L.C. and EQR-Walden Park, L.L.C. (referred to here as “Equity” of “Defendants”) are the Defendants.

  • The lawsuit claims that Defendants breached the warranty of habitability and the covenant of quiet enjoyment due to problems with its heat and hot water systems at Walden Park between 2012 and 2014.  Equity denies any wrongdoing.

  • In a class action, Class Representatives (in this case Rachelle Baker and Jason Dittmann), sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are a Class or Class Members. One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who ask to be excluded from the Class. Judge Patti B. Saris is in charge of this class action.

  • This case has been aggressively litigated by both the Plaintiffs and the Defendants for six years.  The Defendants vehemently deny any wrongdoing and intend to seek dismissal at trial and/or an order decertifying the class on appeal.  Due to the uncertainties of what could happen at trial and on appeal, the parties explored the possibility of settlement by using a court appointed mediator.  This settlement is designed to bring all litigation to an end, while providing substantial financial benefit to members of the Class.

  • You are a member of the Class and part of the Settlement if you fall into any one of the following three categories:

    • You were a tenant at Walden Park (i.e., 205-225 Walden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts) on a day between April 12, 2012 to April 24, 2014 in which there was a heat or hot water outage;
    • You were a tenant at Walden Park for the period between April 12, 2012 to April 24, 2014; or
    • You were a tenant at Walden Park from May 1, 2012 to May 30, 2013; July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013; and/or July 7, 2014 to September 30, 2014.
  • If you are a member of the Class and you file a valid and timely claim, you are eligible to receive payment of up to $5,000.00.  The amount of the payment that you receive will depend on how many eligible claims are filed and approved.  Payment of Settlement Benefits will be based on two available pools of settlement funds.

    The Settlement Fund:  The Defendants will pay $200,000.00 to fund the Settlement Fund.  If you submit a valid and timely claim to the Claim Administrator, you will receive a pro rata amount of this Settlement Fund, with a maximum payment amount of $4,000.00. 

    The Substantiated Claim Pool:  The Defendants will also make available an additional $300,000.00 to members of the Class who  can substantiate their claim  by sending with their valid and timely claim, evidence of a written complaint (which shall include, without limitation, letters, e-mails, text messages, online messages, or other written correspondence) made to Equity about a heat or hot water issue during the period of August 12, 2012 through April 24, 2014.  If you can provide this documentation with your claim, you shall also be entitled to a pro rata amount of the Substantiated Claim Pool, with a maximum payment amount of $1,000.00.  This payment shall be in addition to any payment you receive from the Settlement Fund.

    Unlike the Settlement Fund, the Substantiated Claim Pool is not a fund that will be automatically deposited with the Claim Administrator in advance of any claims being made.  Instead, the Substantiated Claim Pool constitutes a commitment by Defendants, as a Settlement benefit, to pay timely and valid claims by Class Members who can substantiate their claims (as described in the preceding paragraph), up to a total maximum payout of $300,000.00 for all Substantiated Claims and up to a maximum payment of $1,000.00 per affected unit for each Substantiated Claim.  Defendants’ total payment for the Substantiated Claim Pool is limited by the total value of all valid and timely Substantiated Claims submitted.  So, for example, if no Substantiated Claims are submitted by Class Members, then Defendants will not be required to pay out any portion of the $300,000.00 they have agreed to make available.  If there are 100 Substantiated Claims submitted, which (with the $1,000.00 per claim maximum) would have a maximum collective value of $100,000.00, then Defendants would not be required to pay more than $100,000.00 in total for the Substantiated Claims.  If there are 300 or more Substantiated Claims submitted, then Defendants would be required to pay the entire $300,000.00.

    ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE:  If you believe that you have made a written complaint to Equity about heat or hot water issues, as described above, but you do not have any evidence of your complaint to submit with your claim, you can contact Class Counsel, who will check their records (which includes records made available by Defendants).  Class Counsel will let you know if they were able to find any complaints for submission with your Proof of Claim within 10 days of your request.  If Class Counsel can locate a written complaint you made to Defendants, that evidence will be provided to you, which you can then submit with your Proof of Claim.  IT IS STILL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TIMELY SUBMIT THE EVIDENCE WITH YOUR PROOF OF CLAIM IN ORDER TO RECEIVE PAYMENT FROM THE SUBSTANTIATED CLAIM POOLIt is important to note, however, that even if you seek such assistance from Class Counsel in documenting your written complaint about heat or hot water issues, your Proof of Claim must still be submitted by the Claim Period deadline, which is November 14, 2019.

    FOR ASSISTANCE PLEASE CONTACT CLASS COUNSEL:  For assistance finding evidence of your written complaint, you can reach attorney Joshua N. Garick, Esq. at (617) 600-7520 or Joshua@GarickLaw.com, or you can reach attorney David Pastor, Esq. at (617) 742-9700 or dpastor@pastorlawoffice.com.  PLEASE CONTACT CLASS COUNSEL NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 4, 2019 at 3:30 PM EST.  While Class Counsel will make every effort to locate evidence for you, Class Counsel cannot guarantee that a request submitted after this deadline will be honored in a timely manner.

    All payments from the Settlement Fund and from the Substantiated Claim Pool shall be distributed on a pro rata per unit basis.  This means that if you had co-tenant(s) living with you, the pro rata amount you will receive will be divided among you and each of your co-tenants who also submits a valid and timely claim.

  • If you would like to receive the monetary benefits offered under this Settlement, you were required to submit a Claim Form online or postmarked by November 14, 2019. The deadline to submit a Claim Form has passed. If the Claims Administrator approves your claim, you will receive a payment.

     

  • The Court approved the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing held on November 4, 2019.

    Settlement Benefits will be mailed to you, unless there is an appeal.  It is always uncertain how long it will take to resolve an appeal.  You may continue to check on the progress of the Settlement on this website.  Payment will be made once appeals have concluded.

    All checks mailed by the Claims Administrator to members of the Class are valid for 60 days only.  Any funds not cashed or redeemed in that time will be returned to Defendants.

  • Unless you excluded yourself, you are staying in the Class, and that means that you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Equity about the legal issues in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you.  This is true whether you file a Proof of Claim and receive payment, or you do not file a Proof of Claim and do not receive payment.

    As part of the Settlement, the Plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss all claims of the Class Members relating to the alleged heat and hot water issues at Walden Park. This means that all persons who did not opt-out of the Class will be barred from bringing any claims on their own for the conduct that Plaintiffs claim in this lawsuit, even if they do not file a claim or receive any monetary Settlement Benefits.

  • The deadline to exclude yourself from the settlement was October 21, 2019. The deadline to exclude has passed

  • No. Unless you excluded yourself, you have given up the right to sue Equity for the claims that this Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit against Equity, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately. 

  • No. If you excluded yourself, you cannot seek monetary benefits under the Settlement. But you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against Equity if you excluded yourself prior to the deadline to exclude.

  • The Court has appointed the Law Offices of Joshua N. Garick, P.C. and Pastor Law Office, LLP to represent you and the Class. These lawyers are called Class Counsel. 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.

  • The attorneys who brought the case on your behalf are requesting attorneys’ fees in the amount of $500,000.00, plus reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses in the sum of $30,000.00, which must be approved by the Court.  The Class Representatives will also seek compensation for their efforts in the amount of $7,500.00 each, which must also be approved by the Court.  Equity has also agreed to pay the Claims Administration expenses to administer this Settlement.  All of these amounts will be paid separately by Equity, in addition to the Settlement Benefits made available and/or paid to members of the Class, and will not reduce the funds available to members of the Class in the Settlement Fund or the Substantiated Claim Pool.  A motion for these payments will be made by Plaintiff at the appropriate time.

  • The deadline to object to the settlement was October 21, 2019. The deadline to object has passed.

  • Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about 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 excluded yourself, you cannot object because the case no longer affects you.

  • The Court approved the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing held on November 4, 2019, before the Hon. Patti B. Saris, and considered whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate.  If there were objections, the Court considered them.  The Court listened to people who asked to speak at the hearing.  Further information is detailed in the Court's Final Order Approving Class Action Settlement.

  • No. Class Counsel answered any questions the Court had.  But you were welcome to come at your own expense.  If you sent a written objection, you didn’t have to come to Court to talk about it.  As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court considered it.  You may have also paid your own lawyer to attend.

  • You may have asked the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must have included with your objection a statement that you intended to appear, either in person or through an attorney, at the Final Approval Hearing, as stated under FAQ 15 above.

  • If you do nothing at all, you will remain in the Class and will not receive a monetary benefit from the Settlement.  For any questions as to how to claim a monetary benefit under the Settlement, see FAQ 7 above: “How can I participate in the Settlement?”

    If you did not exclude yourself and do not return a valid and timely Proof of Claim you will receive no monetary benefit from the Settlement, and you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Equity about the legal issues in this case, ever again.

  • The Notice summarizes the proposed Settlement.  More details are in the Settlement Agreement.  You can also get a copy of the Settlement Agreement by writing to Class Counsel listed under FAQ 15 above.

  • You can write to the Claims Administrator, Equity Walden Park Settlement, c/o JND Legal Administration, P.O. Box 91248, Seattle, WA 98111 to ask questions about the Settlement, plus other information to help you determine whether you are a Class Member and whether you are eligible for a payment.  You may also call 1-844-961-0320 or contact Class Counsel listed under FAQ 15 above.

    Please do not contact the Clerk of the Court or the Judge with questions.

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail

Equity Walden Park Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91248
Seattle, WA 98111-9418