Lavinsky, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why Was This Notice Issued?
  2. What Is This Lawsuit About?
  3. Why Is This A Class Action?
  4. Why Is There A Settlement?
  5. How Do I Know If I Am Part Of The Settlement?
  6. Are There Exceptions To Being Included In The Settlement?
  7. What If I Am Not Sure Whether I Am Included In The Settlement?
  8. What Does The Settlement Provide?
  9. What Am I Giving Up In Exchange For the Settlement?
  10. Do I Have A Lawyer In This Case?
  11. How Will The Lawyers Be Paid?
  12. Will The Class Representatives Be Compensated?
  13. How Will The Settlement Administrator Be Compensated?
  14. What Do I Do If I Do Not Want To Be Included In The Settlement?
  15. What Happens If I Don’t Opt Out By August 19, 2019?
  16. How Do I Tell The Court That I Don’t Like The Settlement?
  17. What Is The Difference Between Opting Out Of the Settlement And Objecting To It?
  18. When And Where Will The Court Decide Whether To Approve The Settlement?
  19. Do I Have To Attend The Hearing?
  20. May I Speak At The Hearing?
  21. How Do I Get More Information?
  1. Why Was This Notice Issued?

    The Court issued this Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of this class action lawsuit, including the Settlement benefits and about all of your options under the Settlement, before the Court decides whether to grant Final Approval of the Settlement.

    The persons who filed this class action are called the “Plaintiffs” and the City of Los Angeles is the “Defendant.” The Plaintiffs filed the class action lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, for the County of Los Angeles. The lawsuit is called Lavinsky, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Case No. BC542245.

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  2. What Is This Lawsuit About?

    The lawsuit alleges that the City improperly included in its natural gas utility user tax (“Los Angeles City Users Tax”) calculation the Public Purpose Surcharge (“PPS”) and the State Regulatory Fee (“SRF”). The lawsuit contends that the City may only calculate the Los Angeles City Users Tax on the amount of natural gas used, and not on the PPS and SRF. The City denies the allegations. The parties have agreed to a settlement to avoid the expense, delay, and risk of continued litigation.

    More information can be found on this website, by calling 1-866-680-6140, or by writing to Class Counsel at the addresses listed on the "Contact Us" page. 

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  3. Why Is This A Class Action?

    In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of themselves and all other persons or entities with similar claims. All of these persons or entities together are called a “Class” or “Class Members.” The Court appointed three plaintiffs (Brendan Eisan, Alexandra Lavinsky, and Barbara Trevino) as the Class Representatives for purposes of this Settlement.

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  4. Why Is There A Settlement?

    The Court did not issue a final decision in favor of either Plaintiffs or Defendant. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. The Class Representatives and the attorneys that have been appointed by the Court to represent the Class believe that the Settlement is in the best interests of all Class Members.

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  5. How Do I Know If I Am Part Of The Settlement?

    You are a Class Member and part of the Settlement if you were a natural gas customer of Southern California Gas Company at any time during the billing period that includes at least one day that falls on or after December 12, 2012 through April 12, 2019. 

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  6. Are There Exceptions To Being Included In The Settlement?

    Yes, excluded from the Settlement are the City of Los Angeles, any entity in which the City of Los Angeles has a controlling interest, and any Judge, Justice, or judicial officer presiding over this matter and the members of their immediate families.

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  7. What If I Am Not Sure Whether I Am Included In The Settlement?

    If you are not sure whether you are included in the Settlement, you may access a copy of the Settlement Agreement and other important documents on this website. You may also call 1-866-680-6140 or e-mail info@LAGasTaxSettlement.com and ask for assistance.

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  8. What Does The Settlement Provide?

    The Settlement provides the following benefits:

    First, on or before July 11, 2019, the City will no longer impose the Los Angeles City Users Tax on the PPS and the SRF.  The City will not impose the Long Angeles City Users Tax on the PPS and the SRF in the future unless such a practice is approved by applicable voters, if ever. It is estimated that this change in the Los Angeles City Users Tax will result in a yearly tax savings for all natural gas customers, who are subject to this tax, of approximately $6.18 million dollars per year.  

    Second, the City has agreed to establish a “Settlement Fund” in an amount of $32,500,000. After making deductions for settlement administration (estimated to be $821,640), court-approved service payments of up to $5,000 for each of the three Class Representatives (a maximum of $15,000), a $400,000 payment to a non-profit charitable organization called the Alliance for Children’s Rights, and court-approved attorneys’ fees and expenses of up to 25% of the $32,500,000 Settlement Fund (i.e. $8,125,000), the balance of the Settlement Fund will be distributed to Southern California Gas Company customers who are residents of the City and subject to the Los Angeles City Users Tax. Distributions will be made by applying a reduced Los Angeles City Users Tax rate for retail customers of Southern California Gas Company (who are subject to the tax) beginning within 90 days after the Settlement becomes final and continuing for up to 36 months (the “Abatement Period”), by which time all distributions must be complete. 

    Please note that the Alliance for Children’s Rights is a 26 U.S.C § 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. The payment to the Alliance of Children’s Rights is is intended to provide indirect compensation to Class Members who will no longer be subject to the Los Angeles City Users Tax during all or a portion of the Abatement Period.  If you are not subject to the Los Angeles City Users Tax during all or a portion of the Abatement Period, you will not directly receive the full benefits of the distribution of the net Settlement Fund through the tax abatement method described above.

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  9. What Am I Giving Up In Exchange For the Settlement?

    If you are a Class Member, and you do not Opt Out of the Settlement, and the Settlement becomes final, you will be releasing Defendant from any liability regarding any and all claims associated with this case. You will give up your right to be part of any other lawsuit against the City regarding the claims resolved by this Settlement and released by the Settlement Agreement. The specific claims you will release are provided in paragraphs 88-97 of the Settlement Agreement. A copy of paragraphs 88-97 of the Settlement Agreement, which sets out the claims released by you, if you are a Class Member, is attached to the Notice as Exhibit A.

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  10. Do I Have A Lawyer In This Case?

    Yes. The Court has appointed the following attorneys as Class Counsel to represent you and the other Class Members. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

    Robert Ahdoot, Esq.

    AHDOOT & WOLFSON, PC

    c/o Lavinsky Settlement Administrator

    P.O. Box 404133

    Louisville, KY 40233-4133

    E-mail: info@LAGasTaxSettlement.com

    Paul Kerkorian, Esq.

    LAW OFFICES OF PAUL G. KERKORIAN

    c/o Lavinsky Settlement Administrator

    P.O. Box 404133

    Louisville, KY 40233-4133

    E-mail: info@LAGasTaxSettlement.com

     


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  11. How Will The Lawyers Be Paid?

    Class Counsel will ask the Court at the Fairness Hearing to award attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses incurred in litigating this case in an amount not to exceed 25% of the $32,500,000 Settlement Fund (i.e. $8,125,000). The Court will determine the amount of the attorneys’ fees and expenses awarded based on the work performed by the attorneys for the Class Representatives and the Class who have participated in prosecuting this lawsuit, securing this Settlement for the Class, and facilitating its implementation. These fees and expenses will be paid from the Settlement Fund before providing benefits to Class Members. Defendant has agreed to not object to any fee and expense request that does not exceed 25% of the Settlement Fund. 

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  12. Will The Class Representatives Be Compensated?

    The Class Representatives Alexandra Lavinsky, Brendan Eisan, and Barbara Trevino will ask the Court at the Fairness Hearing to award them a service payment of up to $5,000 each for their efforts in initiating and prosecuting this case. The Court will determine the amount of each service payment, which will be paid from the Settlement Fund before providing benefits to Class Members. 

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  13. How Will The Settlement Administrator Be Compensated?

    The parties have retained a third-party Settlement Administrator to assist them with certain administrative functions associated with the implementation of this Settlement, including the mailing and publication of the Class Notices, responding to requests for information from Class Members, maintaining a website that publishes information about this Settlement, and managing Opt-Outs and objections from Class Members. The Settlement Administration Expenses, which are estimated to be $821,640, will be paid from the Settlement Fund before providing benefits to Class Members.

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  14. What Do I Do If I Do Not Want To Be Included In The Settlement?

    You have a right to exclude yourself or “Opt Out” of the Settlement. If you Opt Out of the Settlement, you will not release any claims against the Defendant. To Opt Out, you must submit your request online, by U.S. Mail, by e-mail, or via fax on or before August 19, 2019.

    To Opt Out online, go to www.LAGasTaxSettlement.com, and fully complete and submit the Opt-Out Form.

    To Opt Out by mail, e-mail, or fax, print and complete a letter that (1) clearly expresses your desire to be excluded from the Class, to not participate in the Settlement, and not to receive any Settlement benefits; (2) include your name, address, telephone number, and Southern California Gas Company account number; and (3) reference Lavinsky, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Case No. BC542245. Submit your Opt-Out request using the following information:

    Lavinsky Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 404133

    Louisville, KY 40233-4133

    E-mail address: info@LAGasTaxSettlement.com

    Fax number: 1-866-579-5213

    If you Opt Out online, by e-mail or by fax, your request must be submitted on or before 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on August 19, 2019. If you Opt Out by U.S. Mail, your request must be postmarked no later than August 19, 2019.

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  15. What Happens If I Don’t Opt Out By August 19, 2019?

    If you do not Opt Out by August 19, 2019 and the proposed Settlement is approved and becomes final, you will release all claims that you may have now against the City with respect to claims or allegations that Defendant improperly calculated its natural gas utility user tax and illegally charged tax on the Public Purpose Surcharge and the State Regulatory Fee, which will be WAIVED AND RELEASED, and you will be prohibited from bringing any such claims in the future on your own behalf.

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  16. How Do I Tell The Court That I Don’t Like The Settlement?

    If you are a Class Member and remain in the Class (i.e. do not Opt Out of the Settlement), you can object to the Settlement. The Court will consider your views. To object, on or before August 19, 2019, you must send the Settlement Administrator a written statement including: (1) your full name; (2) your address; (3) the specific reason(s), if any, why you object to the Settlement, including any legal support you wish to bring to the Court’s attention; (4) copies of any evidence or other information you wish to introduce in support of the objection; (5) a statement of whether you intend to appear and argue at the Fairness Hearing; (6) your written signature, with date; (7) a reference to Lavinsky, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Case No. BC542245; (8) proof that you fall within the definition of the Class; and (9) a list of all other objections that you or your counsel (if applicable) have submitted in any class action settlement in any state or federal court in the United States in the previous five years, or if you or your counsel have not objected to any other class action settlement in the United States in the previous five years, you must affirmatively state so in the objection. You must mail your objection postmarked no later than August 19, 2019 to:

    Lavinsky Settlement Administrator

    P.O. Box 404133

    Louisville, KY 40233-4133

    You may personally object or object through an attorney hired at your own expense; however, you must personally sign the objection.

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  17. What Is The Difference Between Opting Out Of the Settlement And Objecting To It?

    Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement.  You can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class (i.e., do not Opt Out).  Opting Out of the Settlement is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement.  If you Opt Out, you cannot object because the Settlement no longer affects you.

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  18. When And Where Will The Court Decide Whether To Approve The Settlement?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on October 9, 2019 in Department 11 of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and whether to grant Final Approval of the Settlement. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court also may decide how much to pay Class Counsel and to award the Plaintiffs. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant Final Approval of the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

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  19. Do I Have To Attend The Hearing?

    No. Class Counsel will answer any questions that the presiding judge may have. However, you are welcome to come at your own expense. You also may pay your own attorney to attend the Fairness Hearing on your behalf. If you file an objection, you do not have to come to Court to discuss it. As long as your written objection is received on time, and you have followed the directions contained in the Answer to Question 16 above, the Court will consider the information provided in your written objection.

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  20. May I Speak At The Hearing?

    You may ask the Court in advance for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, please send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear in Lavinsky, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Case No. BC542245.” Please include your name, address, and telephone number, as well as the name, address and telephone number of any attorney who will appear at the Fairness Hearing on your behalf.

    Please note that if you do not submit a Notice of Intention to Appear, you may still appear at the Fairness Hearing and request to speak to the Court. Please also note that if you do not object, you may still appear at the Fairness Hearing and request to speak to the Court.

    Mail your Notice of Intention to Appear to the Settlement Administrator at the address listed in Question 16 above postmarked no later than August 19, 2019. Be sure to include the phrase “Lavinsky, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Case No. BC542245” on the envelope containing your notice.

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  21. How Do I Get More Information?

    If you think you may be a Class Member and would like more information about the lawsuit or the terms of the proposed Settlement, you may review the pleadings, records and other papers on file in this lawsuit, including the Court’s Order granting Preliminary Approval and the proposed Settlement Agreement, which may be inspected on weekdays, during normal business hours, at the Clerk’s Office of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012. The Preliminary Approval Order and Settlement Agreement are also available on this website. Future filings such as the request for Final Approval and application for Class Representative service payments, and attorneys’ fees and expenses will also be made available on this website. Additional information is available by calling 1-866-680-6140, on this website, or by writing to Class Counsel at the addresses in Question 10.

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