McWilliams v. City of Long Beach
McWilliams v. City of Long Beach Claims Administrator
Case No. BC361469

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • This class action lawsuit was filed by a Long Beach resident seeking refunds of telephone taxes paid to the City of Long Beach, CA for telephone services utilized between August 11, 2005 and December 19, 2008. The City denied any wrongdoing and still denies any liability in this case.  However, the parties have agreed to a settlement that provides for telephone tax refunds to eligible claimants.

  • The Court issued the notice because Class Members have a right to know about the proposed class action settlement which the Court has preliminarily approved, and your rights and deadlines to act. If the Court grants final approval, and the settlement becomes final pursuant to its terms, valuable cash benefits will be distributed to Class Members who submit approved Claim Forms on or before September 15, 2018.

  • The Settlement Class is defined in the Second Amended Settlement Agreement as:

    All persons, including corporate and non-corporate entities wherever organized and existing, who paid telephone utility user taxes to the City of Long Beach for residential landline service, business landline service and mobile telephone service utilized between August 11, 2005 and December 19, 2008, other than purely local service, teletypewriter exchange service, or long distance telephone service where the charge varied by both time and distance (the "Settlement Class"). The Settlement Class does not include prepaid wireless customers (which includes customers who purchased plans described as "pay as you go," "pay as you talk," "pay and go wireless," "prepay or burner phone service" and "no contract service") but does include prepaid wireless service providers, i.e., those that provide the above services to customers who prepay for wireless service. Purely local service means local telephone service provided under a calling plan that does not include long distance telephone service, or that separately states the charge for local service on the bill to customers. The Settlement Class does not include any person, including corporate and non-corporate entities wherever organized and existing, to whom the City has already paid a full refund of UUT paid for services utilized during the Class Period.

  • The UUT was typically collected on residential and commercial landlines if the service address of the phone number was within City limits. For mobile service, the UUT was typically collected if the billing address was located within City limits. Mobile service with no billing address (i.e., prepaid mobile service) does not qualify. If you are not sure whether you or your business is included in the Class, you may call the toll-free number (833) 380-5573. You may also write with questions to the lawyers appointed to represent the members of the class whose contact information is in FAQ 10.

    PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE COURT.

  • The person who paid the phone bill must have submitted a valid claim postmarked by September 15, 2018 and the claim must be approved by the Claims Administrator. Claims can be completed online, or by printing or requesting a Claim Form from the Claims Administrator and submitting it via U.S. Mail. Class Members can claim a standard refund amount, and they may also provide proof of the tax paid to claim an actual refund amount. 

    Class Members cannot claim an actual refund amount and a standard refund amount for the same kind of service (e.g., an individual cannot claim a standard mobile refund and also submit mobile bills for an actual refund amount claim). Class Members may, however, claim the standard refund amount for one kind of service and claim the actual amount for another kind of service (e.g., a standard refund claim for mobile and an actual refund claim for landline). For the standard refund claims, one standard refund will be issued for each account regardless of the number of phones affiliated with that account.

    A.  Standard Refund Claims:  You may claim the following standard refund amounts by checking the boxes on the claim form for UUT you paid for each kind of service that you utilized during the time period August 2005 to December 2008.  No additional documentation is required to claim these amounts:

    $46.00 - Mobile Telephone Service[1]

    $27.50 - Residential Landline Service

    $46.00 – Business Landline Service 

    You can check more than one box if you paid for more than one kind of telephone service (e.g., you can claim mobile and residential landline).  For business claimants, only a business that was registered with the City of Long Beach during the August 2005 to December 2008 time period is eligible to claim the business landline service amount. 

    B.  Actual Amount Refund Claims:  You may also claim a refund based on the actual amount of UUT that you paid to the City of Long Beach for telephone services utilized during the August 2005 to December 2008 time period by submitting copies of telephone bills or other carrier-provided proof.  There are several options for submitting the required documentary evidence. 

    • Submit At Least 10 Phone Bills from August 2005 to December 2008 – To claim a refund for the full period under this option, submit at least one bill (or other carrier-provided document showing the UUT paid) from August 2005 to December 2005; at least three bills from 2006; at least three bills from 2007; and at least three bills from 2008; OR
    • Submit 10 Recent Phone Bills – If you paid the City UUT during the August 2005 to December 2008 time period, but you do not have copies of your phone bills from that time period and you are unable to obtain them from your carrier, you can submit 10 copies of recent telephone bills (or other carrier-provided documents) showing payment of the UUT to the City of Long Beach.  In order to claim a refund for the full Class Period using this option you must submit 3 bills from each of three different calendar years, plus one bill from a fourth calendar year (e.g., three bills from 2013, three bills from 2014, three bills from 2015, and one bill from 2016); OR
    • Verizon and Sprint Customers – If you had phone service with Verizon or Sprint during the August 2005-December 2008 time period, and if you provide consent, the carriers will search for your UUT payment data and provide it to the claims administrator.
    • T-Mobile Customers - If you had phone service with T-Mobile during the August 2005 to December 2008 time period, T-Mobile will search for and send directly to you whatever UUT payment records they can locate. Email UUTclaimLongBeach@T-Mobile.com for details, or call 1-877-453-1304, ask for “Representative”, then request historical tax information as described in T-Mobile’s C2 document #440883. 

    You must submit bills or other proof of the amount paid for services utilized during the period August 2005 to December 2008 and your Recognized Claim Amount will be based solely on the amount reflected on the proof submitted.  For landline service, the Recognized Claim Amount will be 70% of the amount of the UUT paid to the City of Long Beach.  For mobile service the Recognized Claim Amount will be 100% of the amount of the UUT paid to the City of Long Beach.

    [1] Please note: Prepaid mobile telephone service does not qualify for a refund claim.

  • The actual amount paid or donated will depend on the number of claims submitted and other factors. Class Members can review the Settlement Agreement for additional information.

  • Payments cannot be made until the settlement is approved by the Court, becomes final pursuant to its terms, and the claims process and administration process is complete.

  • If a Class Member's claim is approved, their payment will be sent to the address they provide. If a Class Member changes addresses, they must contact the Claims Administrator at (833) 380-5573 to report any change of their address. Failure to report a change of address may result in the Class Member not receiving the monetary benefits of the settlement.

  • If a Class Member does not want a payment from this settlement, and they want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue the City of Long Beach about the taxes at issue in this lawsuit on their own, then they must exclude themselves by submitting online or by U.S. Mail postmarked no later than October 15, 2018, a letter saying that they want to be excluded from the settlement to: 

    McWilliams v. City of Long Beach
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91304
    Seattle, WA 98111

    Class Members should provide their name, address, telephone number, and signature. They must also verify that they are a Class Member by providing their telephone number(s) and address(es) during the Class Period.
     

  • The Court has appointed the following Class Counsel to represent the Class: 

    Daniel Krasner
    Rachele R. Rickert
    Marisa C. Livesay
    Wolf Haldenstein Alder Freeman & Herz, LLP
    750 B Street, Suite 2770
    San Diego, CA 92101
     

    Nicholas E. Chimicles
    Timothy N. Mathews
    Chimicles & Tikellis, LLP
    One Haverford Centre
    361 West Lancaster Avenue
    Haverford, PA 19041
     

    Jonathan W. Cuneo
    Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP
    4725 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 200
    Washington, D.C. 20016
     

    Jon Tostrud
    Tostrud Law Group PC
    1925 Century Park East, Suite 2125
    Los Angeles, CA 90067
     

  • The Court-appointed lawyers for the Class (“Class Counsel”) will ask the Court to approve payment of administrative expenses to be paid from the settlement amount to cover the costs of claims processing and administration of the settlement, as well as any notice costs.  Class Counsel will also ask the Court to award up to 25% of the settlement amount (or $4.15 million) for attorneys’ fees and will also request reimbursement of their expenses, not to exceed $125,000.00.  Class Counsel undertook the investigation and litigation of this action on a contingent basis.  They have litigated this case for over ten years, including successfully overturning a lower court decision on appeal to the Supreme Court of California.  They have received no compensation to date, and they have incurred significant out-of-pocket costs that have not been reimbursed.  The named plaintiff will also ask the Court for $6,000 to compensate him for the time and effort he devoted to this case as a Class Representative.

  • Only Class Members may object, and as long as they do not exclude themselves from the settlement. Class Members can object on their own or they may hire a lawyer. Class Members can tell the Court that they don't agree with the settlement, or some part of it, by sending a letter to the Claims Administrator so that it is received on or before September 28, 2018, saying that they object to the settlement. Their objection must contain all of the following: 

    1. A heading referring to: McWilliams v. City of Long Beach, Case No. BC361469; 
    2. A statement of the legal and factual bases for your objection;
    3. Your name, address, telephone number, and email address;
    4. Copies of telephone bills dated during the Class Period or other evidence of membership in the Class; and
    5. Your signature and the signature of your counsel (if you are represented by counsel).

    The Court will consider a Class Member's objection. If their objection is mailed in time, they do not have to attend the Final Settlement Hearing described in FAQ 13.

    Any objection to the Settlement must be served by first class mail, or email, or otherwise delivered to the Claims Administrator so that it is received by September 28, 2018. The Claims Administrator can be contacted at:

    McWilliams v. City of Long Beach
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91304
    Seattle, WA 98111

  • The Court will hold a hearing at 9:00 am on October 29, 2018, at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Department 17 to decide whether the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable.  You may attend at your own expense, and you may ask to speak, but you are not required to do so.  If the Final Settlement Hearing is rescheduled, a notice of the new date or time will be posted to the Homepage

  • The Class Notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Second Amended Settlement Agreement. All court records in this litigation, including complete copies of the Second Amended Settlement Agreement, may be examined during regular court hours at the office of the Clerk of the Court, prior to April 15, 2018 at 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90005, and thereafter at 111 North Hill Street, Room 212, Los Angeles, CA 90012, or at any public kiosk in the Los Angeles Superior Court buildings.  You can also download a copy of the Second Amended Settlement Agreement or receive further information by calling the Claims Administrator at (833) 380-5573 - toll free. 

    DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT DIRECTLY WITH ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT.

For More Information

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Mail

McWilliams v. City of Long Beach
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91304
Seattle, WA 98111