Nozzi, et al. v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, et al.
HACLA Class Action Settlement
CV 07-00380-PA

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • This lawsuit challenged the adequacy of HACLA’s notice explaining a reduction in its subsidy to Section 8 participants.  The lawsuit claimed that the notice, which Section 8 participants were entitled to receive one year before the reduced subsidy took effect as to them, was so deficient in explaining the effect of the reduction that it violated the constitutional right to due process of law and certain California state laws.  As a result, according to the lawsuit, the reduction in HACLA’s subsidy was unlawful, and the affected tenants are entitled to damages in the amount of the additional rent they paid their landlords that they would not have paid if the subsidy had not been reduced.  

    The lawsuit also claimed that some participants could be entitled to other types of damages if they could show them, and that all Section 8 participants, present and future, were entitled to an order that HACLA’s future notices adequately explain the likely or potential effect of any subsidy reduction.

  • You have a right to know about the proposed Settlement of this class action lawsuit and about all your options before the Court decides whether to give final approval to the Settlement.  Your rights may be affected by this lawsuit.

    This information is being sent to everyone who has been determined to be a member of the class based upon the last-known address available from HACLA’s records and is otherwise being publicized to reach Class Members.

    This Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible, and how to file a claim.

    The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the Central District of California, located in Los Angeles, California.  The case is known as Nozzi v. HACLA, et al., Case No. CV 07-00380 PA (FFMx).  The people who brought the case are called Plaintiffs, and the people they sued are called Defendants.  The Judge is the Honorable Percy Anderson.

  • In a class action, one or more persons, called the Class Representative(s), sue on behalf of a group of people who have similar claims--the Class Members.  One court then resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class. 

  • The Court has ruled that some of the claims in this lawsuit are correct but has not decided what kind of remedy or damages the Class Members are entitled to.  Instead of continuing the litigation, both sides have agreed to a settlement.  That way, both sides are able to avoid the risks and costs of a trial regarding the damages to which Class Members may be entitled, or an appeal from any such decisions by a court; the case can be resolved immediately; and the benefits of the Settlement can be made immediately available to the Class Members.  The Class Representative and her attorneys think that the proposed Settlement is fair to the Class Members and the parties in the case and think that the terms of the Settlement are a fair, reasonable and adequate resolution of this matter.

  • You are a member of the Damages Class if you were a voucher participant under the HACLA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program ("HCVP") (referred to at times as “Voucher Participant”) beginning April 2, 2004, and paid a higher rent to your landlord than you otherwise would have paid if not for the reduced subsidy in effect during the period from July 1, 2005 through April 30, 2007.  Subject to certain limitations, you could receive a reimbursement for up to 11 months that you overpaid your rent.  

    The limitations on who is a Damages Class Member (in other words, those who were not entitled under Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) regulations to the benefit of the one-year advance notice) are:
     

    1. a new Voucher Participant who moved into Section 8 housing after April 2, 2004;
       
    2. a Voucher Participant on or after April 2, 2004, who moved into a different Section 8 unit after that date (this person is ineligible as of the time he or she moved into a new unit);
       
    3. a Voucher Participant after April 2, 2004 who changed Voucher Bedroom sizes after that date (this person is ineligible as of the change in Voucher Bedroom size);
       
    4. a Voucher Participant whenever a new Housing Authority Payment (“HAP”) contract was executed for that tenant’s unit, even if the family did not move from its current unit (i.e., when the owner and the family entered into a new lease agreement); and
       
    5. a Voucher Participant allotted a subsidy as a reasonable disability accommodation for a unit.


    Such tenants are not members of the Damages Class as of the time one of these Exceptions applied.  All other HACLA Section 8 Voucher Participants were entitled to the one-year advance notice for the period they were such tenants, and are entitled to reimbursement of up to 11 months of the additional rent they paid (depending on whether they fit into one of the foregoing Exception categories, which cut off their reimbursement period).

    Whether you are a Class Member is determined solely from the records of HUD and HACLA.

  • The Settlement provides for payment of a total of approximately $9,000,000 to $9,400,000 (depending on the sum available after payment of insurance policy money for the defense litigation costs and attorneys’ fees).  From that amount, the following awards will be made:
     

    1. An award of attorneys’ fees, in an amount not to exceed 30% of the approximately $9,000,000 to $9,400,000 total.
       
    2. Additional payment of class attorneys’ litigation costs.
       
    3. Further additional payments of the third-party class settlement administration costs.
       
    4. Payment of $5,000 to Nidia Pelaez, the designated Class Representative, in addition to her rent reimbursement.  Ms. Pelaez will receive this additional amount under the Settlement because of the role that she played in the litigation.
       
    5. Payment of the remainder, estimated to be approximately in the range of $5,500,000 to $6,000,000, to the members of the class who timely file claims for payment up to the amount of additional rent that each Damages Class Member paid as a result of the reduced HACLA subsidy.
       
    6. To the extent that the filed claims do not total the amount available for distribution to Damages Class Members, the excess funds will not be paid out and will be retained by HACLA’s insurers.  However, in no event will the total funds paid out to Damages Class Members, or organizations that assist Section 8 tenants, be less than $2,000,000. (This is because, if not enough Class Members file claims to total $2,000,000, the difference between the amount claimed and $2,000,000 will be paid to organizations that help Section 8 tenants.)
       
    7. If the total claims filed by Damages Class Members exceed the funds available for payment to them, the amount paid to them will be proportionately reduced.  (For example, if there is only enough of the available fund to pay 75% of the total claims, each Class Member shall be paid 75% of the damages amount that is due them.)
       

    In addition, the Court will enter an injunction lasting for the next three years ensuring that notices to all Section 8 tenants of any future reduction of the Voucher Payment Standard will be in plain, understandable language that the average Section 8 tenant should understand.

  • Under the terms of the Settlement, HACLA will treat the money to be paid to Class Members as settlement for personal injury which, under HUD regulation 24 C.F.R. § 5.609(c)(3), is excluded from any income calculation, i.e., the damages payment you receive will not be counted as part of your income when determining whether you still qualify for Section 8 housing assistance at your next reexamination.  However, if you have assets, HACLA may count any income earned on those assets.  If you have questions about that, HACLA has designated Patricia Mendoza, Assistant Section 8 Director, as a point of contact on these matters should you need further clarification. 

    With regards to other public benefit programs, Class Counsel are not experts in the income and asset policies for all benefits programs.  If you are unsure about how the receipt of any money under this settlement will affect other benefits you receive, you should discuss with your caseworkers on those programs or seek other legal advice.  You should provide them with a copy of this Notice, which has been approved by the Court, and let them know you are being repaid money that you previously paid towards your rent pursuant to a notice which the court has ruled was illegal.

  • If you receive a Claim Form addressed to you, it will state the maximum amount of damages to which you are entitled if there are funds available to pay all claims.  As long as you file an approved claim within the time set by the Court, you will be entitled to receive compensation up to the amount stated on your Claim Form, or a reduced amount if the total claims exceed the available funds.  In the event the total claims exceed the available funds, you and each Class Member’s recovery will be reduced proportionally.

    Based on the terms of this Settlement, it is estimated that no Damages Class Member will receive less than 50% of the maximum damages to which they are entitled.  If you file an approved claim, you will receive somewhere between 50% and 100% of the amount listed on your individualized Claim Form, depending on how many claims are filed.  If you obtained a Claim Form from the website, it won’t tell you what your maximum recovery is because it is not individualized.

    The full description of the proposed system to determine how much each Damages Class Member will receive is contained in the parties’ Settlement Agreement, which is available on the Key Documents page.  

  • The deadline to submit a claim form has passed. If you are a Settlement Class Member and you did not submit a claim or opt-out request, you are barred from suing HACLA for the claims released in this action and you will not receive a settlement check.

  • No money will be paid until 1) after the Settlement Funds are deposited with the Settlement Administrator, which will only occur 30 days after the Settlement is approved and all possibilities of appeal are completed, and 2) after the date set by the Court as the last day to mail or file a claim.  After that, it will take at least two months, and quite possibly more, to process all the claims, calculate the amount due each Class Member and receive the money to send to the Class Members.  

    If you file a claim and do not receive money within six months after December 6, 2017, which is the last day to mail or file a claim, check the Settlement Website for this case about when payment mailings are expected, or contact the Settlement Administrator by either calling 1-888-268-5894 (toll free) or writing to:
     

    Nozzi v. HACLA Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Class Action Administration
    P.O. Box 7028
    Broomfield, CO 80021


    We strongly recommend that you keep a copy of your Claim Form.  You may want to send the Form in by certified mail so it can be verified, but you are not required to do so.

  • As part of the Settlement, you release the claims covered by this lawsuit in exchange for the money you will receive if you do not exclude yourself from the class.  The Proposed Final Order of Approval and Settlement (which may be viewed on the Key Documents page) describes the legal claims against the Defendants you will give up by staying in the class (that is, if you do not exclude yourself as described in FAQ 12 entitled “Can I exclude myself from the Settlement?”).  

    The Released Claims include all claims, demands, causes of action, whether class, individual or otherwise in nature, damages whenever incurred, liabilities of any nature whatsoever, including costs, expenses, penalties and attorneys’ fees, that were or could have been asserted in the complaint based on the facts alleged, specifically for the increased rent paid as a result of the improperly reduced HACLA subsidy.  These Released Claims include any other related complaints, grievances and/or claims, whether judicial or administrative, and whether actually filed or available.  Released Claims do not include any other claim(s) that a Plaintiff or member of the classes may have against HACLA for conduct not covered by this Settlement (for example, a claim for an unlawful eviction unrelated to this suit). 

  • The deadline to opt out of the settlement was November 29, 2017.

  • The Court has approved lawyers (called “Class Counsel”) to collectively represent you.  You will not be asked to pay your own personal money for the services these attorneys and their associates and staff have provided you in litigating this case and negotiating this Settlement.  Instead, the lawyers will seek payment from the fund being made available in this Settlement on behalf of the class, as described further below.  Only Class Counsel may act on behalf of the class.  However, that rule of law does not prevent you from hiring your own lawyer to advise you personally about your rights, options or obligations as a Class Member in this lawsuit.  If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • The Court has not yet decided how much Class Counsel will be paid.  However, they will ask the Court for an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees up to the amount of 30% of the total available Class Fund, which is between $9,000,000 and $9,400,000, plus litigation costs that they advanced over the course of the lawsuit.  The Court may award less than that amount, but not more.  You will not be asked personally to pay any attorneys’ fees that the Court awards to Class Counsel.  Only if you hire your own lawyer to represent you personally would you have to pay an attorney any fees.  

  • The deadline to object to the settlement was November 29, 2017.

  • If you do nothing, your rights will be affected.  You will be bound by the terms of the Settlement and you will be agreeing to a release of the claims that are contained in the Settlement.  However, if you do not file a claim, you will not be entitled to any money from the Settlement even though you will be bound by it.

  • The Court has scheduled the Fairness Hearing for January 29, 2018, in the United States District Courthouse for the Central District of California, First Street Courthouse, 350 West 1st Street, Courtroom 9A, 9th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90012.  At this Hearing, Judge Anderson will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate, and will determine the amount of attorneys’ fees and costs to be awarded.  If there are any objections, the Court will consider and rule on them.  

    We do not know how long this process will take.  We do not know if the Hearing will be continued.  There will not be a new notice if it is.  You may speak at the Hearing, but only if you have submitted your comments or objections as provided in FAQ 16 entitled “If I do not like the Settlement or object to the attorneys’ fees, how do I tell the Court?”

  • No.  You may, but need not, attend the Hearing.  Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have.  However, you may come if you choose but at your own expense.  If you sent a written objection, you may, but do not have to, come to Court to talk about it.  As long as you properly submitted your written objection, the Court will consider it.  You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but that also is not necessary.

  • You will not be heard unless you have submitted your comments or objections as provided in FAQ 16 entitled “If I do not like the Settlement or object to the attorneys’ fees, how do I tell the Court?” and have stated in your submission that you wish to be heard.  You cannot speak at the Hearing if you exclude yourself.  If you have submitted an objection, the Court will decide whether or not to hear from you verbally as well.

  • You can continue to visit the Settlement Website for updates.  The complete Settlement Agreement and certain other pleadings in the case, along with a copy of the Motion for Award of Attorneys’ Fees and Costs when it is filed, are available on the Key Documents page.  In addition, reports of the statistical expert who analyzed the HUD and HACLA data to determine who was a member of the Damages Class and determined the amount of the members’ damages are available to view.  

  • Under certain circumstances, it is possible the Settlement might not go through (for example, if there are too many people who decide not to participate or if the Court for some reason does not approve the Settlement).  In that situation, the case would go forward and go to trial.

  • If you are not sure whether you are included in the class, call 1-888-268-5894 or write to:
     

    Nozzi v. HACLA Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Class Action Administration
    P.O. Box 7028
    Broomfield, CO 80021


    Determinations of whether you are or are not a Class Member are based exclusively on the records of HUD and HACLA.

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Address

Nozzi v. HACLA Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Class Action Administration
P.O. Box 7028
Broomfield, CO 80021