St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson gave preliminary approval to a national class action settlement against DirecTV on March 25.
According to the preliminary approval, all people in the United States who entered into a programming commitment with DirecTV who have not yet received a portable DVD player with a value of at least the advertised value are eligible to submit a claim.
Represented by the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, Belleville attorney Christopher T. Kolker filed the class action on May 9, 2007, on behalf of all persons who entered into a programming agreement with DirecTV and who, within eight weeks of submitting a valid redemption form, have not received a portable DVD player with a value of at least the advertised value.
Kolker signed a two-year contract for DirecTV digital television service in 2006 and claims he expected that a free portable DVD player would arrive in the mail in six-to-eight weeks. Instead, he got a traditional, full-sized, stationary DVD player with no viewing screen.
Kolker claims DirecTV advertised the incentive as having a value of up to $169 in some instances. The product Kolker received is available online for $29.99, he claims.
The suit alleges DirecTV breached contract.
Kolker claims the DVD was advertised with phrases such as, "Bigger screen for easier viewing," "Light enough to take wherever you go," "High-output stereo speakers," "One-inch super-slim design," and "Complete portability with car adapter."
He claims he received a Sungale DVD2028.
"Unlike the portable DVD player that defendant advertised and promised, the Sungale DVD2028 cannot be utilized without connecting it to a separate, stand-alone monitor, it has no car adapter and cannot operate on DC power in a vehicle; it has no speakers and produces no sound," Kolker's complaint states.
Gleeson will hold the fairness hearing at 9 a.m. on July 15.
Class members have until June 13, to opt-out of the class by filing a written request for exclusion.
The settlement calls for the Lakin Law Firm to receive attorney fees not to exceed $200,000.
According to the proposed class settlement, the parties have negotiated the proposed settlement at arms-length and that the settlement is "fair reasonable, adequate, proper, and in the best interests of the Class."
DirecTV is represented by Barney Schultz of Heyl Royster in Edwardsville and Andrew Paris of Los Angeles.
DirecTV denies any liability to the class but considers it desirable that the case be settled because the case involves complex and disputed legal and factual issues which would be costly to resolve at trial.
Each eligible class member who submits a valid claim will be provided one portable DVD player that is of a current generation with an approximate retail value of $129, with no fewer features than the most sophisticated portable DVD player previously advertised by DirecTV.
Any class member who already received a traditional DVD player will be allowed to keep it without a lien or offset.
Kolker will also be paid $3,000 for serving as the class representative "in recognition of his services."
For it to be considered a valid claim, class members are required to provide their name and address at the time of activation and their account number, plus a copy of the original redemption form if available.
The Lakin firm has hired Tilghman & Co., as the settlement administrator to perform the services to effectuate the terms of the settlement agreement.
According to the proposed settlement, DirecTV will mail notices of the settlement to each class member at their last known billing address as soon as reasonably practicable by first-class mail through the United States Postal Service.
Any class member who does not exclude themselves may object to the settlement by appearing in person, or through legal counsel at their own expense, at the final approval hearing to present evidence or argument as to why the settlement should not be approved.
DirecTV has also agreed to withdraw its motion to dismiss the case and stay proceedings.
07 L 240 (20th Circuit)
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