Lopinot approves check fee class action settlement; Maag to get $9,200 in fees and costs

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 21, 2013

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot has approved a settlement in a check cashing fee class action lawsuit against a Cahokia grocery store.

The settlement provides $9,200 in fees and costs for plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Maag of Wood River as well as a “substantial benefit” for individual class members, according to the notice. That benefit was not disclosed in the order entered by Lopinot on Nov. 12.

Lead plaintiff Willie Hadley, however, was compensated with an incentive of $800 “in exchange for agreeing to take on the risks associated with litigation, the responsibilities, and the duty to represent the interest of class members,” the order states.

“The court finds that…in light of the record before the Court and the circumstances of this case, and that this Settlement, on these factors alone, indicate that the Settlement is in the best interests of the Settlement Class,” the order states.

The class is described as, “All persons residing in the counties of St. Clair, Madison, Randolph and Monroe who between October 10, 2007 and October 10, 2012 cashed a check at defendant’s store … and paid a check cashing fee greater than allowed under the Illinois Check Cashing Act, to wit: a fee in excess of the greater of $0.50 or 1% of the face value of the check cashed.”

The settlement also imposes a permanent injunction on the defendant to comply with the Illinois Check Cashing Act.

Ryan Mahoney of Cates Mahoney and Swansea represented the defendant.

According to the joint motion for final approval of class action settlement, “The parties desire to avoid the further expense of litigation and to settle and voluntarily compromise any and all claims or causes of action between them that have arisen.”

In the lawsuit filed in October 2012, Hadley claimed he cashed a check for $1,875 at defendant Maplewood Markets, formerly known as Cahokia Mor for Less, in August 2011. The defendant then charged Hadley a $38 check cashing fee, the suit stated.

The complaint claimed Illinois law does not allow for check cashing fees or more than 50 cents or 1 percent of the face value of the check.

Cahokia Mor for Less charged him more than was statutorily allowed, and it did the same thing to numerous other Illinois residents, the suit stated.

Hadley had requested class certification of the case, seeking more than $50,000.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 12-L-534

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