Lawrence Czarnionka v. The Epoch Times Association, Inc.

THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Case No.:1:22-cv-06348-AKH 

TO: Subscribers of Epoch Times for the Period of July 26, 2020, through January 22, 2024, Who Obtained a Video on Epoch Times’s Website While Being a Facebook Account Holder

A class action settlement (the “Settlement”) has been reached in the action styled Lawrence Czarnionka v. The Epoch Times Association, Inc., Case No.: 1:22-cv-06348-AKH (the “Action”), pending in the Southern District of New York. The operative complaint in the Action alleges that Epoch Times violated the Video Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2710 (the “VPPA”) by purportedly disclosing subscriber personally identifiable information to Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta,” f/k/a Facebook Inc.) without consent via the Meta Tracking Pixel (the “Pixel”), a business advertising and analytical tool offered by Meta. Epoch Times denies all allegations in the Complaint, including but not limited to, how it manages subscriber information.

The Settlement resolves the claims in the Action, and provides the following remedial and injunctive relief to Settlement Class Members:

Remedial Measures:  After this Action was filed, and as a result of this Action, Epoch Times has removed all Pixels embedded in any webpage on an Epoch Times website accessible in the United States that includes video content and a URL that identifies the specific video requested or obtained from that website webpage. Epoch Times has implemented and completed a process to ensure Epoch Times does not possess “personally identifiable information” (as that term is defined in the VPPA) of Settlement Class Members generated by the Pixel. If Epoch Times discovers on its internal data system in the future “personally identifiable information” of Settlement Class Members generated by the Pixel, it shall promptly destroy said information and notify Settlement Class Counsel within seven (7) days of such discovery.

Injunctive Relief:  Epoch Times agrees that: (i) Epoch Times shall not resume operation of the Pixel on any webpage of its websites accessible in the United States that include video content and a URL that identifies the specific video requested or obtained from that website webpage, and (ii) Epoch Times may seek relief from this injunction upon amendment or repeal of the VPPA or upon implementation of a VPPA-compliant consumer consent form.

Plaintiff may seek from the Court an injunction to enforce the above terms of this Agreement.

You are not required to take any action. This website further explains the Action, the Settlement, and how you may object to any portion of the Settlement, including Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and expenses and/or the request for a Service Award for the Class Representative, if you want.

Summary of the Settlement. The Settlement defines the “Settlement Class” as: All individuals residing in the United States who were Facebook account holders and subscribers to Defendant’s digital services during the Class Period and who requested or obtained any videos on any Epoch Times website while an active Facebook account holder during the Class Period.

The “Class Period” is defined as “the period from July 26, 2020, to and through January 22, 2024.” Pursuant to the Settlement, Epoch Times has agreed to the remedial and injunctive relief set forth above. The Settlement does not affect Settlement Class Members’ claims for damages or other monetary relief.

On January 22, 2024, the Court entered a Preliminary Approval Order, which preliminarily approved the terms of the Settlement, conditionally certified an injunctive relief class under Rule 23(b)(2), appointed Plaintiff as the Class Representative for the Settlement Class, and appointed the following attorneys as Class Counsel: Michael W. Sobol and Douglas I. Cuthbertson, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; Hank Bates and Lee Lowther, Carney Bates & Pulliam PLLC; Gary M. Klinger, Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, PLLC. The Court’s Preliminary Approval Order can be viewed here under the Documents tab. 

Importantly, the Court’s Preliminary Approval Order does not make a determination of any wrongdoing by Epoch Times, which denies the allegations in the Action and Plaintiff’s claims, including for damages and certifiability of a Settlement Class. The Parties agreed to settle the Action to avoid the costs, risks and disruption of continued litigation, and in light of Epoch Times inability to fund a class settlement under Rule 23(b)(2). Epoch Times maintains its denial of all allegations in the Complaint.

The precise terms and conditions of the Settlement are provided in the Settlement Agreement which can be viewed here under the Documents tab, or can be obtained by contacting Class Counsel (see below section, “Contacting Class Counsel”), by accessing the Court docket in this case, for a fee, through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://pacer.uscourts.gov, or by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays.

Your rights. If approved by the Court, the Settlement will affect your right to seek certain injunctive or non-monetary equitable relief against Epoch Times. The Settlement will not affect your right, if any, to seek damages or other monetary relief from Epoch Times.

No Opt Outs. Because Settlement Class Members do not release claims for monetary damages and because Epoch Times is only agreeing to remedial and injunctive relief (i.e., business practice changes), Settlement Class Members cannot opt out of the Settlement. This means that all Settlement Class Members will be bound by the Settlement, if the Court approves it.

Release. If the Settlement is approved, Settlement Class Members will be deemed to have released Epoch Times from and for any and all non-monetary claims, liability, right, demand, suit, matter, obligation, action, or causes of action, of every kind and description, that you have or could have presented or asserted against Epoch Times arising out of or reasonably relating to the operative factual predicate alleged in or otherwise described by Plaintiff’s complaint in the Action.

You will not be deemed to have released any claims for monetary relief. The specific release provision of the Settlement Agreement is provided in FAQ2


This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel to the Parties and controlled by the Notice Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.
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Lawrence Czarnionka v. The Epoch Times Association, Inc.
Kroll Settlement Administration LLC
PO Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391

Important Dates

  • Objection Deadline

    Monday, April 22, 2024 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 Monday, April 22, 2024.
  • Final Approval Hearing Date

    Monday, June 17, 2024 The Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 17, 2024. Please check this website for updates.

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