Hernandez, et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., et al.
Bankruptcy Discharge Settlement
05-CV-1070 DOC (MLGx)

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • A class action lawsuit was brought in the United States District Court for the Central District of California and is known as Hernandez, et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., et al., No. 05-CV-1070 DOC (MLGx). The people who sued are called the “Plaintiffs,” and the companies they sued, Equifax Information Services LLC (“Equifax”), Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (“Experian”), and TransUnion LLC (“TransUnion”), are called the “Defendants.”

    Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and related state laws by failing to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy in the reporting of debts discharged in bankruptcy and failing to properly reinvestigate disputes made by consumers regarding such debts. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants were erroneously reporting those kinds of debts as in collection or due and owing on their credit reports, when they should have been reported as included in bankruptcy, and that when consumers disputed such reporting, Defendants failed to properly reinvestigate such disputes. Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that a credit report contained an “error” if an account or judgment which was discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy was reported with information indicating that such debt was due and owing. In the filed complaints against Defendants, Plaintiffs requested injunctive relief and actual, statutory, and punitive damages.

    Defendants deny all of the Plaintiffs’ claims. Specifically, Defendants disagree with the allegations and say that they have defenses to Plaintiffs’ claims, that they are not liable to Plaintiffs, and that Plaintiffs are not entitled to any benefits from this litigation.

  • In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are a “Class” or “Class members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class members.

  • Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are consumer credit reporting agencies that collect consumer credit information and provide credit reports or other credit-related information to credit grantors and others, such as prospective employers and insurance companies.

  • The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or the Defendants. Instead, the Class Representatives (who are Jose Hernandez, Kathryn Pike, Robert Randall, Camille Chapman, Lewis Mann and Bertram Robison) and Defendants agreed to settle all the claims alleged in the case to avoid the cost and risk of a trial. The settlement does not mean that any law was violated or that the Defendants did anything wrong. The Defendants deny all legal claims in this case. The Class Representatives and their lawyers think the settlement is best for all Class members.

  • The Court decided that the Class includes all consumers who have received an order of discharge of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and who, between March 15, 2002 and May 11, 2009 (or, for California residents in the case of TransUnion, between May 12, 2001 and May 11, 2009), had a credit report issued by a Defendant that contained debts, accounts, judgments or other obligations discharged in bankruptcy that were not reported as discharged in bankruptcy.

  • The settlement does not include (a) anyone who opts out from the Class before the deadline; (b) consumers who previously released all of their claims against the Defendant(s); (c) Defendants and their officers, directors, and employees; (d) counsel for any of the settling parties in this case; or (e) all judges assigned to this case, along with their staff, spouses and any children living in their households.

  • If you are not sure whether you are included in the Class, or you have questions about the settlement, you may call the toll free number, 1-866-237-3432, where frequently asked questions are answered. You may also email questions to info@bankruptcydischargesettlement.com, or write with questions to:

    Hernandez Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91306
    Seattle, WA 98111

  • If the settlement is ultimately approved and becomes final, it will provide benefits to Class members.

  • The settlement will make available to all Class members two free VantageScore Credit Scores and one free consumer report. The settlement will also establish a Fund including at least $36.8 million that will:

    • pay for damage award claims by consumers;
    • pay class counsel’s attorneys’ fees and their expenses;
    • pay a service award to each of the Class Representatives; and
    • pay the costs of notice and administering the settlement.

     

    More details on all of the settlement benefits are available in the Settlement Agreement.

  • All Class members may access the Consumer Credit Reporting Assistance page, which contains information regarding credit reports, credit scores, and how Class members can dispute any inaccuracies on their credit reports and use their settlement benefits to track their credit ratings and monitor improvements, by clicking on the button below:

     

    In addition, Claimants were able to elect to receive a Monetary award or a Non-Monetary Award from the settlement:

    Non-Monetary Award

    Class members could have submitted a claim for a free file disclosure plus two free VantageScore Credit Scores. Class members who elecedt the free file disclosure and two free VantageScore Credit Scores may not also claim a Monetary Award. Class members who claimed this benefit will receive an activation code by email within 30 days of the Settlement becoming final.

    Monetary Award

    If you opted to receive a Monetary Award, you could have selected one of two available options.

    Option 1 on the Claim Form is for a Convenience Award. The amount of this type of award will depend, in part, on the number of Class members who claim this benefit. The parties estimate that a Convenience Award under Option 1 will be $15–20, but it could be more or less.

    Option 2 on the Claim Form is for Class members who are able to certify that they suffered an adverse action or harm. Class members who make this certification must specify whether they believe they suffered this harm with respect to: a denial of employment; a mortgage loan or housing rental; and/or a credit card, auto loan, other credit that they applied for, or payment of a discharged debt to obtain credit. They must also state which month and year they believe this happened and provide documentation in support of their claim. The Settlement Administrator will verify these claims. Accepted claims will be paid according to the following schedule:

    Type of Claim Monetary Award
    A denial of employment you applied for $750.00
    A mortgage loan or a housing rental you sought $500.00
    A credit card, auto loan, or other credit applied for, or payment of a discharged debt to obtain credit $150.00

     

    Payment will be made only for the highest dollar category for which you qualify even if you qualify for two or three categories.

    More information about the benefits provided by the settlement is available in the Settlement Agreement.

  • Information in your credit report relating to debt discharged in bankruptcy should already have been updated following the Injunctive Relief Settlement that was reached in 2008. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion agreed to immediately update the credit files of Class members to reflect bankruptcy discharges and adopted new procedures for automatic updating in the future. No money was paid, and no claims for money were given up by the Class members.

  • Unless you opted out of the settlement, you will be giving up all rights under both federal and state law to claims against Defendants that relate to the reporting, between March 15, 2002 and May 11, 2009, of debt discharged in a Chapter 7 no asset bankruptcy, including claims relating to Defendants’ reinvestigation of any disputes you may have made about the reporting of such debts. This means, for example, that if you applied for credit or a mortgage loan and you were denied because of errors you believe appeared on your credit reports regarding debt discharged in bankruptcy, you will lose your right to pursue any related claims against Defendants. You can find more information regarding the rights you will be giving up in a document called the Settlement Agreement. You can talk to the Settlement Administrator representing the Class for free or you can, at your own expense, talk to your own lawyer if you have any questions about the released claims or what they mean.

  • If you wished to participate in the settlement, you must have submitted a fully completed Claim Form by November 13, 2017. You can submit a Claim Form online or download a Claim Form from the Important Documents page.

  • If you submitted a valid claim in the 2009 Proposed Settlement, you were not required to submit a Claim Form. If you did not submit a Claim Form, you will be deemed to have submitted a claim for a Monetary Award corresponding to the election you made in the 2009 Proposed Settlement. If you wished to claim a different Monetary Award or choose a Non-Monetary Award, you must have submitted a new Claim Form.

  • If the Court approves the settlement, benefits will be distributed to those who have qualified for them, but only after any appeals are resolved. If the settlement is approved and not delayed by appeal, Non-Monetary Awards will begin to be distributed within 30 days and Monetary Awards should begin to be distributed within 90 days of when an order approving the settlement becomes final. Updates will be available on the Home Page of this Settlement Website. Please be patient.

  • You can notify the Settlement Administrator of your new address using the Email Us form on the Contact Us page. Please include your old address in the Question/Comments box, as this will help us locate your record. If you have received an email notice or postcard, please also provide the Name Number listed in the notice.

  • The Court appointed the Law Offices of: Michael A. Caddell, Caddell & Chapman; Michael W. Sobol, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; James A. Francis, Francis & Mailman; Leonard A. Bennett, Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C.; F. Paul Bland and Arthur H. Bryant, Public Justice, P.C.; Charles Delbaum and Stuart T. Rossman, National Consumer Law Center; and Lee A. Sherman, Callahan, Thompson, Sherman & Caudill, LLP, as “Class Counsel” to represent you and other Class members. You may contact the Settlement Administrator by calling the toll-free number: 1-866-237-3432. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • At the Final Fairness Hearing, Class Counsel asked the Court for approval of attorneys’ fees of no more than 25% of the total value of the Settlement, including the Fund of at least $38.6 million and the non-monetary benefits. In no event will Class Counsel’s fee request exceed $12 million. Class Counsel also asked for reimbursement of their costs and expenses in connection with this settlement. They also asked for service awards for each of the Class Representative plaintiffs who spent time, effort, and resources on behalf of the Class. The Court has not yet made any decision regarding the amount of attorneys’ fees, costs, expenses, and Class Representative payments, and may award less than these amounts. The fees, expenses, and awards that the Court orders, plus the costs to administer the settlement, will come out of the Fund. In addition, Class Counsel and possibly additional counsel sought approval of an award of fees and expenses for their efforts in connection with obtaining the Injunctive Relief Settlement; in a separate, previously negotiated agreement, Defendants have agreed to pay up to $6 million for the injunctive relief fees and expenses, subject to Court approval. The amount of injunctive relief fees and expenses approved will in no way reduce the size of the Fund in this settlement.

  • You could have commented on the settlement if you did not like it or any part of it. To do so, you had to send in a written objection (“Objection”) in the case, Hernandez, et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc. et al., No. 05-CV-1070 DOC (MLGx). Your Objection had to be be signed by you or your lawyer, if any, had to state that you object to the settlement, in whole or in part, and had to include: the full name, address, email address and telephone number of you and your lawyer, if any; confirmation that you are a member of the Class; your specific objections and the basis for them; any evidence you wish to introduce in support of your Objection; and a list of any cases, by name and case number, in which you or your lawyer have objected to a class action settlement in the last five (5) years.

    Your written notice had to indicate whether you or your lawyer intend to appear at the Final Fairness Hearing to object to the settlement (see "The Court's Fairness Hearing" below) and provide copies of any documents you wished to submit in support of your position. You had to file your Objection with the Court and send it to all of the following addresses so that it was received by November 13, 2017:

    COURT PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL
    Clerk of the Court
    411 West Fourth Street, Room
    1053
    Santa Ana, CA 92701-4516
    United States District Court
    Michael W. Sobol
    LIEFF, CABRASER, HEIMANN &
    BERNSTEIN, LLP
    275 Battery Street, 30th Fl.
    San Francisco, CA 94111
    Michael A. Caddell
    CADDELL & CHAPMAN
    628 East 9th Street
    Houston, TX 77007
    EXPERIAN COUNSEL EQUIFAX COUNSEL TRANSUNION COUNSEL
    Daniel J. McLoon
    JONES DAY
    555 South Flower Street
    Fiftieth Floor
    Los Angeles, CA 90071-2300
    Cindy D. Hanson
    TROUTMAN SANDERS LLP
    600 Peachtree Street, NE
    Atlanta, GA 30308-2216
    Julia B. Strickland
    Stephen J. Newman
    STROOCK & STROOCK &
    LAVAN LLP
    2029 Century Park East, Suite 1800
    Los Angeles, CA 90067

     

    Filing a written Objection with the Court was the only permissible way to contact the Court.

    DO NOT CALL THE COURT. DO NOT CALL OR SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO JUDGE CARTER OR HIS STAFF.

  • If you did not wish to participate in the settlement, you could have requested to be excluded from the settlement by “opting out.” If you opted out, you will receive no benefits from the settlement.  You will not be bound by the settlement. You should consult an attorney to understand what rights, if any, you have against the Defendants.  To opt out, you had to send a written request to: Exclusion Requests – Hernandez Settlement Administrator, c/o JND Legal Administration, P.O. Box 91306, Seattle, WA  98111.  Those who submitted valid opt-out requests for the 2009 Proposed Settlement were deemed to have submitted a valid request for exclusion from this Settlement unless they took other action. Group opt-outs were not accepted.

    Your opt-out request had to include: your full name, current address, and telephone number; the last four digits of your Social Security number; and a specific statement that you wanted to be excluded from the settlement. Your opt-out statement had to be personally signed by you and had to be postmarked by November 13, 2017.

  • The Court held a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on December 11, 2017, at the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Santa Ana Courthouse, Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 411 West Fourth Street, Courtroom 9D, Santa Ana, California, 92701. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court considered whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and should be granted final approval. If there were Objections, the Court considered them. Class Counsel also asked the Court for approval of their request for attorneys’ fees, costs, expenses, and service awards to Class Representatives.

  • No. Class Counsel answered any questions the Court may have had. However, you were welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you sent in a written Objection, you did not have to come to the Fairness Hearing to talk about it. As long as you filed your written Objection on time, the Court considered it. You could have chosen to have another attorney represent you at the Fairness Hearing, at your own expense.

  • To speak at the Fairness Hearing, you had to send a letter or other written document to all of the addresses listed in the "Objecting to the Settlement" section above saying that the letter or document is your “Notice of Intent to Appear” in Hernandez, et al. v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc. et al., No. 05-CV-1070 DOC (MLGx). You had to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. You also had to include information about what you intended to say at the hearing and provide copies of any documentation you intended to present, as well as a list of any witnesses you intended to call to give evidence. If you were to be represented by a lawyer other than Class Counsel, you had to include the name, address, and telephone number of your lawyer. It had to be postmarked no later than November 13, 2017. The Court decided if you were allowed to speak at the Fairness Hearing.

  • If you did nothing before the deadlines described above, and you did not previously submit a claim in the 2009 Proposed Settlement, you will not receive any payment in this settlement, and you will lose the right to sue or continue to sue any of the Defendants or other released parties based on how debt discharged in bankruptcy is reported, the handling of any reinvestigation of any dispute you submitted to Defendants regarding the reporting of such debts, or based on any matter alleged in the complaints on file with the Court. Your credit file should already have been updated as a result of the Injunctive Relief Settlement requiring Defendants to update consumers’ credit files.

  • More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You also may call 1-866-237-3432 or write to: Hernandez Settlement Administrator, c/o JND Legal Administration, P.O. Box 91306, Seattle, WA 98111.

    DO NOT CALL THE COURT. DO NOT CALL OR SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO JUDGE CARTER OR HIS STAFF.

For More Information

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

Mail

Hernandez Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91306
Seattle, WA 98111