Lakins: $8 million; Class members: $20 in Madison County settlement

Steve Gonzalez Sep. 4, 2008, 12:22pm

Brad Lakin

Schmieder II


The Lakin Law Firm is set to collect $8 million in fees from settling a seven year old Madison County class action case against Cendant Corp.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian recently approved a $25 million settlement in a case filed July 10, 2001 by Charlene Pederson. She alleged statutory fraud under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act claiming she was charged for products without her consent.

Under the settlement, class members who had unsolicited or unauthorized charges from Trilegiant, a subsidiary of Cendant, posted to their credit cards for products such as Privacy Guard, Credit Alert, Auto Vantage, Travelers Advantage, Buyers Advantage, Compete Home, Digital Protection Plus, Great Fun, Great Options, HealthSaver, Hotline, Just for Me, National Card Registry, NetMarket, Shoppers Advantage, Travel ER, and others, can file a claim to receive a minimum of $20 or the amount they were charged, up to three times the cost of each Trilegiant product for which they were charged.

In August 2004, Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian certified a nationwide class of "all persons or entities who had unsolicited charges for Trilegiant 'products' posted to their credit card, phone, bank or mortgage accounts by the defendant."

Matoesian signed the final approval on July 18, which provides up to $25 million in cash benefits, along with changes in the business practices of Trilegiant and up to $100,000 in charity donations.

The preliminary settlement was signed by Matoesian in February.

In addition to the cash payments, Trilegiant must also offer class members an easy cancellation method. One of the allegations against Trilegiant was over alleged refusals to cancel memberships upon request.

Matoesian appointed Brad Lakin and Robert Schmeider II of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River along with Paul Weiss and Eric Brunick of Freed & Weiss of Chicago as class counsel in the case. He also named Daniel Girard of San Francisco as additional class counsel.

Girard had a competing class action filed in federal court in California. He agreed to dismiss his case and merged his plaintiff with Lakin's case.

As part of the settlement, Trilegiant agreed to pay all costs of administering the settlement.

That included publishing notices 28 and 45 days after the preliminary approval in Parade Magazine, USA Weekend, USA Today, TV Guide, People, American Profile and PR Newswire.

Trilegiant also had to establish a Website which will be active until Jan. 31, 2009 so class members can download claim forms.

As part of the settlement, Trilegiant denies any wrongdoing but agreed to settle the case to "avoid the risk and uncertainty inherent in any litigation."

The final settlement also called for "incentive awards" for class representatives.

According to court documents, Pederson is to receive not more than $10,000, while class reps Heather Nordberg, William Smith and Julie Abshine will receive $6,000. Thomas Stackhouse, Richard Schnickel, Virginia Schnickel and Stephen Powers will receive $3,000 in incentive awards.

Larry Hepler of Edwardsville and Kenneth Kliebard and Todd McLawhorn of Chicago represented Trilegiant in the settlement.

All claims must be postmarked by Jan. 15, 2009.

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