Lee v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (PRA)

Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions

Answers

1. WHY HAVE YOU RECEIVED A NOTICE?

This is a Court-authorized website of a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit.  If you received a Notice by mail, you have been identified as an individual who was named in a collection lawsuit filed by Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) in an Illinois court between March 11, 2013 and September 30, 2018, and, therefore, you might be a member of the Settlement Class.

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2. WHAT IS THIS LAWSUIT ABOUT?

In 2016, PRA filed collection lawsuits against Latoya Lee and Shirley Darnell in the Circuit Court for St. Clair County, Illinois alleging that Lee and Darnell owed an outstanding balance on their credit card accounts. Lee and Darnell responded to the collection lawsuits by asserting class action counterclaims against PRA.  Lee and Darnell alleged that PRA did not have the requisite documentation to prove that Lee and Darnell owed the alleged balances.  Lee and Darnell further alleged that PRA did not attach to its complaints the requisite documentation to establish that Lee and Darnell owed the alleged balances. Lee and Darnell alleged that PRA violated the Illinois Collection Agency Act (225 ILCS 425/1, et seq.); the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/1, et seq.); and the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 1692, et seq.).

PRA denied Lee and Darnell’s allegations and raised various defenses. The Court did not rule for or against any party on the merits of the claims, but the parties have reached the proposed Settlement.


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3. WHAT IS THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT?

If you are a High-Balance Settlement Subclass Member: 

Without admitting any fault or liability, and in exchange for a release of all claims against PRA regarding the collection lawsuits at issue, PRA has agreed to provide a credit in the amount of $75 against the outstanding account balance to Class Members whose accounts are collectible and have an outstanding balance of more than $75.   

If you qualify for the $75 credit because your account is collectible and has an outstanding balance of more than $75, then you do not need to submit any Claim Form to receive the $75 credit.  

PRA has also agreed to pay a Service Award to Lee and Darnell for serving as the “Class Representatives,” to dismiss its collection lawsuits against Lee and Darnell, to pay attorneys’ fees and costs to Lee and Darnell’s attorneys, and to pay Settlement Administration Expenses. 

The Court has Preliminarily Approved this Settlement, subject to a Final Approval Hearing that will occur on December 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm, in Room 402 in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220.  If the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement, then each Class Member who meets the requirements in the first paragraph of this section will receive the $75 credit on their account.

If you are a Low-Balance Settlement Class Member: 

Without admitting any fault or liability, and in exchange for a release of all claims against PRA regarding the collection lawsuits at issue, PRA has agreed to make $100,000 (the “Settlement Fund”) available to pay those Class Members whose accounts are either uncollectible or have an outstanding balance of $75 or less and who submit an Approved Claim Form.  

PRA has also agreed to pay a Service Award to Lee and Darnell for serving as the “Class Representatives,” to dismiss its collection lawsuits against Lee and Darnell, to pay attorneys’ fees and costs to Lee and Darnell’s attorneys, and to pay Settlement Administration Expenses. 

The Court has Preliminarily Approved this Settlement, subject to a Final Approval Hearing that will occur on December 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm, in Room 402 in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220.  If the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement, then each Class Member who meets the requirements in the first paragraph of this section and whose claim is approved by the Settlement Administrator will receive a check in the mail for an equal portion of the Settlement Fund.

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4. WHAT CAN CLASS MEMBERS DO NOW?

If you are a Low-Balance Settlement Subclass Member you can return a completed Claim Form. To receive a share of the Settlement Fund, you must complete and return a signed Claim Form, postmarked, faxed, or submitted through this website on or before November 20, 2020. The Claim Form is attached as the last page of the Notice you received. If the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement and if your claim is approved, you will be mailed a check for your equal share of the Settlement Fund once the Settlement becomes final and either the time for appeal is over or, in the event of an appeal, the appeal is finally resolved with the Court affirming the Settlement and the time for further appeal has concluded.  Please be patient.  More information can be found in the Notices and Court Documents located on the Documents page of this website.


Exclude yourself from the Settlement Class and the Settlement. You can exclude yourself from the class action and the Settlement (or “opt out”) by filing a written request with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220. That request must be postmarked on or before November 20, 2020, and it must list your name, street address, and the name and number of this case.  More information can be found in the Notices and Court Documents located on the Documents page of this website. You must sign your request for exclusion and mail copies, postmarked by the same date, to: 

For the Settlement Class:                      
Sean K. Cronin
Brendan M. Nester
Donovan Rose Nester, PC
15 North 1st Street
Belleville, Illinois 62220
T: (618) 212-6500
[email protected]
[email protected]

For PRA:
 Avanti D. Bakane 
Brian H. Myers 
Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP
One North Franklin, Suite 800 
Chicago, IL 60606 
T: (312) 565-1400 
[email protected] [email protected]


David Cates 
Chad Mooney 
Cates Mahoney, LLC 
216 West Pointe Drive, Suite A 
Swansea, Illinois 62226 
T: (618) 277-3644 
[email protected]
[email protected] 
Grey Chatham, Jr.
Chatham & Baricevic
107 West Main Street
Belleville, Illinois 62220
T: (618) 233-2200 [email protected]
 

Object to the Settlement in writing. If you object to the Settlement, and wish to file an objection rather than excluding yourself, you must submit your objection in writing to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220. Your objection must be postmarked by November 20, 2020. You must also serve copies of your objection and any supporting memoranda or materials on each of the attorneys for the Settlement Class and for PRA listed above, postmarked by the same date. Your objection must be signed under penalty of perjury and must identify (1) your name, address, and telephone number, (2) all attorneys who assisted you in the preparation or filing of your objection, (3) a list of all other class action cases in which you or your attorneys have submitted an objection to a settlement, including case name, court, case number, and how much, if any amount, was paid in connection with the objection, and (4) a statement of the reasons why you believe the Court should find that the proposed Settlement is not fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class. If your objection does not comply with these requirements, the Court may strike and disregard your objection. If you file an objection and wish to present it to the Court in person, then you must appear at the Final Approval Hearing before Judge Hoerner in Courtroom 402 of the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220 on December 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm. You are not required to attend this hearing in order for your objection to be considered by the Judge.  If you submit an objection in writing by the postmark date, then the Judge will review and consider your objection. More information can be found in the Notices and Court Documents located on the Documents page of this website.


Do Nothing

If you are a High-Balance Settlement Subclass Member: 

If the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement, then you will receive the $75 credit on your account automatically without having to take any action in response to this Notice.  By being part of the Settlement Class and receiving the $75 credit on your account, you will also be bound by any judgment entered by the Court, and you will release your claims against PRA about the collection lawsuits at issue. More information can be found in the Notices and Court Documents located on the Documents page of this website.

If you are a Low-Balance Settlement Subclass Member: 

You will stay in the Settlement Class, be bound by any judgment entered by the Court, and you will release your claims against PRA about the collection lawsuits at issue, but you will receive no payment. More information can be found in the Notices and Court Documents located on the Documents page of this website.

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5. WHEN WILL THE COURT DECIDE WHETHER TO APPROVE THE SETTLEMENT?

The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether the proposed Settlement is fair and reasonable and should be approved. At that Final Approval Hearing, the Court will hear any objections and arguments about the proposed Settlement, including the amount of the award of costs and attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel. The Final Approval Hearing will take place on December 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm, in Courtroom 402 of the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220. You do not need to attend this hearing. The Final Approval Hearing may be continued to a future date without further notice. If the Court does not approve the Settlement, the case will proceed as if no settlement has been attempted. If the Settlement is not approved, there is no assurance that the Settlement Class will recover more than is provided in the Settlement, or anything at all.

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6. WHO REPRESENTS THE CLASS?

The Court appointed Latoya Lee and Shirley Darnell to be the “Class Representatives” and appointed Sean Cronin of Donovan Rose Nester, PC, and David Cates and Cates Mahoney, LLC as “Class Counsel.” At the Final Approval Hearing, Class Counsel will request that the Court approve a Service Award of $5,000 to each of the Class Representatives. Additionally, Class Counsel will request that the Court award attorneys’ fees of up to $1,047,316.67 (one third of the total Benefit to the Settlement Class, including the Settlement Fund and the account credits) and out-of-pocket litigation expenses up to $20,000 to Class Counsel, and an estimated $40,000 to pay the Settlement Administrator’s Expenses.

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7. HOW DO I OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAWSUIT OR THE SETTLEMENT?

This description of the litigation is general and does not cover all of the issues and proceedings. To see a copy of the Class Action Complaint or the Settlement Agreement, you may visit the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220. The Clerk will make them available to you for inspection and copying at your own expense.  These documents are also available on this website.

You may contact the Settlement Administrator (Heffler Claims Group) on this website or by mail: Lee v Portfolio Recovery Associates c/o Settlement Administrator P.O. Box 170, Warminster, PA 18974-0170.

If you have specific questions for Class Counsel, the address and telephone numbers are set forth above. Include the case number, your name, your fax number, and your telephone number. 

Do not contact the Clerk of the Court, the Judge, or the Judge’s staff, because they cannot answer your questions or give you advice about this Settlement. 

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8. WHAT IF I RECEIVED MULTIPLE NOTICES?

If you received more than one Notice in the mail, then you have multiple accounts with PRA (you received a Notice for each account you have with PRA that falls within the scope of the Settlement). You are eligible for a benefit for each account with PRA for which you received a Notice. If you received multiple Notices for accounts with PRA that fall into the High Balance Subclass, you will automatically receive a $75 credit for each account. If you received multiple Notices for accounts with PRA that fall into the Low Balance Subclass, you will be eligible to submit a claim to receive a benefit on each one of those accounts.

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This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel and controlled by the Settlement Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.

Documents

Please read for a full explanation of the settlement and your options and all applicable timelines.

Contact

Contact us with any inquiries, comments, and/or requests.

Submit Claim

Click here to safely and securely submit a Claim Form.

Important Dates

  • Exclusion Deadline

    Friday, November 20, 2020
    You must complete and mail your request for exclusion form so that it is postmarked no later than November 20, 2020.
  • Objection Deadline

    Friday, November 20, 2020
    You must mail your objection(s) and/or notice of intent to appear at the Final Approval Hearing so that it/they are postmarked no later than November 20, 2020.
  • Claim Form Deadline

    Friday, November 20, 2020
    For Low-balance Subclass Members only: You must submit your Claim Form online no later than November 20, 2020, or mail your completed paper Claim Form so that it is postmarked no later than November 20, 2020.
  • Final Approval Hearing Date

    Thursday, December 3, 2020
    The Final Approval Order was granted on December 3, 2020. Please check this website for updates.

Important Documents

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