NOTICE OF PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND HEARING
A federal court authorized this Notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.
This Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement and Hearing provides important information regarding your right to participate in or to opt out of a proposed settlement in a putative class action lawsuit (referred to in this notice as the “Settlement”). Named Plaintiffs, Audra Niski and Nelson Ferreira (“Plaintiffs”), filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Company (“Defendant”) in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. Plaintiffs and Defendant are referred to in this notice together as the “Parties.”
Plaintiffs allege in their lawsuit that Defendant provided them and other putative class members with a COBRA Notice that violated the notice requirements of COBRA. Defendant denies the allegations and maintains that the COBRA Notice complied with all applicable laws, but Defendant has agreed to the settlement to avoid the uncertainties and expenses of continuing the case. The judge has not made any determination about who is right or wrong in the case. A summary of the claims asserted in the lawsuit and the proposed Settlement follows.
- The notice at issue is referred to as a “COBRA Notice,” and the continuation of health insurance coverage after separation of employment is called “COBRA continuation coverage,” after the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. The COBRA Notice is designed to provide former employees who were covered under employer sponsored group health care plans with information and details regarding their right to continue their healthcare coverage and the terms and conditions of that COBRA continuation coverage. 29 U.S.C. § 1166(a) (2), (a)(4), (c).
- The lawsuit generally alleges Defendant provided Plaintiffs and other putative class members with a deficient COBRA Notice. More specifically, Plaintiffs asserted that Defendant’s COBRA Notice did not adequately inform them how to exercise their right to elect COBRA continuation coverage because, in violation of 29 C.F.R. § 2590.606–4(b)(4) et seq., the COBRA Notice: (i) included inaccurate and misleading threats of criminal penalties and fines; and (ii) was not written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant. As a result of the alleged violations in the Complaint, Plaintiffs sought statutory penalties, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses on behalf of himself and all others similarly-situated.
- Defendant denies that its COBRA Notice was deficient in any manner and denies that it has any liability to Plaintiffs or the putative class. Rather, Defendant has asserted that its COBRA Notice complied with any and all relevant laws, including COBRA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Furthermore, had the Parties proceeded in the litigation, Defendant further denies that the matter would have proceeded on a class action basis.
- At this point in the case, the presiding judge has not made any determination about who is right or wrong. Rather, instead of proceeding with potentially years of litigation with uncertain outcomes, the parties have agreed to resolve the lawsuit through a Court-supervised settlement to avoid further cost and uncertainty.
- The Parties seek to settle this dispute on behalf of Plaintiffs and a “Settlement Class,” which the Parties have agreed to define as follows: “All participants and beneficiaries in the Wells Fargo Health Plan who were sent the COBRA Notice by or on behalf of Defendant at any time during the Class Period [i.e., from May 3, 2018 through December 23, 2021, subject to shorter applicable state limitations periods for a claim for statutory penalties, as best determined by the Parties’ counsel] who did not elect COBRA Coverage, excluding individuals who entered into arbitration agreements with Defendant.”
- Membership in the Settlement Class will be determined based upon Defendant’s records reflecting who received the specific COBRA Notice at issue during the Class Period. It is estimated that the Settlement Class is comprised of 50,000 potential members.
- You received notice of this Settlement by email or U.S. Mail, which directed you to this website because Defendant’s records indicate that you are a “Settlement Class Member” and eligible to receive payment from this proposed class action settlement.
- Your rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in this Notice. Here is a brief summary of your rights and options.
|File a Claim by March 3, 2024
|If you timely file a claim and the Court approves this Settlement, you will receive a settlement payment of up to $20.00. As a member of the Settlement Class, you will release Defendant and others (the “Released Parties” from any potential liability regarding the COBRA Notice, including but not limited to the issues raised in this lawsuit. You can file a claim either online on www.blessingersettlement.com or by mailing or emailing a claim form by March 3, 2024, via U.S. Mail or email. More information regarding how to submit a claim is provided below.
|If you choose to do nothing (including deciding to not file a claim), you will not receive a check. However, you will still release Defendant and the Released Parties from any potential liability regarding the COBRA Notice, including but not limited to the issues raised in this lawsuit.
Ask to be Excluded byMarch 3, 2024
|If you do not want to be included in the case and the Settlement, you must take action to exclude yourself. This is called “opting out.” To opt out, you must send a written opt-out request to the Settlement Administrator postmarked by March 3, 2024, either via U.S. Mail to Blessinger v Wells Fargo, c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 23489, Jacksonville, FL 32241 or via email to [email protected]. Your written opt-out request must (i) state the case name and number (Blessinger, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Company, 8:22-cv-01029-TPB-SPF); (ii) state your name, address, telephone number, and email address; and (iii) include your personal signature. If you elect to opt out, you may pursue your own individual action against Defendant for the claims raised in this case if you choose to do so.
|Object by March 3, 2024
|If you do not like the Settlement, or any of its specific terms, you may “object.” To object, you must file a written objection with the Court and send a copy of your objection to the Settlement Administrator postmarked by March 3, 2024, either via U.S. Mail to Blessinger v Wells Fargo, c/o Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 23489, Jacksonville, FL 32241 or via email to [email protected]. Your written objection must (i) state the case name and number; (ii) provide the specific grounds for your objection; (iii) state whether your objection pertains to just you individually, or all or some of the proposed Settlement Class; (iv) state your name, address, telephone number, and email address; (v) state whether you intend to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing, either with or without your own counsel; and (vi) include your personal signature (and your counsel’s signature, if you have your own representation). You may not file an objection if you opt out of the settlement.
|Go to a Hearing on April 15, 2024
|If you wish to be heard, you may attend the Final Approval Hearing and ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the Settlement. You are not required to attend the hearing. If you opt out, you may not present your opinions regarding the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing.
The Court still has to decide whether to approve this settlement, which may take some time.