Lawrence Czarnionka v. The Epoch Times Association, Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Lawrence Czarnionka v. The Epoch Times Association, Inc.

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On July 26, 2022, Plaintiff filed a putative class action complaint against Epoch Times alleging violations of the VPPA. On October 4, 2022, Epoch Times moved to dismiss the class action complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) arguing that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. After briefing was completed, the Court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss in its entirety. Thereafter, the Parties engaged in significant first-party and third-party discovery. Following this discovery, the Parties agreed to mediate the dispute based, in relevant part, on discussions that identified aspects of Defendant’s financial condition and inability to withstand a classwide monetary judgment. Based on these discussions and in preparation for mediation, the Parties exchanged both formal and informal discovery regarding the merits of the case, Settlement Class certification, Defendant’s inability to use insurance coverage for the Action, and Defendant’s ability to fund a class action settlement. On July 6, 2023, the Parties attended an all-day mediation before a neutral mediator. On that day, the Parties were able to reach an agreement in principle, and then negotiated a comprehensive set of Settlement documents, including a Settlement Agreement.

Epoch Times has provided Plaintiff’s counsel with documents concerning its financial condition and inability to fund a class action settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). In addition, Epoch Times has responded to a number of questions posed by Plaintiff’s counsel’s financial analyst regarding its financial condition and ability or lack thereof to fund a class action settlement. Epoch Times has warranted that these representations with respect to its financial condition, including the documents and information provided to Plaintiff’s counsel, are a good-faith representation of its current financial state.

RELEASE.

Upon the Effective Date, and in consideration of the promises and covenants in this Settlement Agreement, each Settlement Class Member, including Plaintiff, shall be deemed to have, and by operation of the Final Approval Order shall have, fully, finally, and forever released, relinquished, waived, and discharged all Released Claims.

With respect to any and all Released Claims, upon the Effective Date, Plaintiff and the Settlement Class Members intend to and shall be deemed to have, to the fullest extent permitted by law, waived the provisions, rights, and benefits conferred by California Civil Code § 1542, and all provisions, rights, and benefits conferred by any law of any state, province, or territory of the United States which is similar, comparable, or equivalent to California Civil Code § 1542, which provides:

A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS THAT THE CREDITOR OR RELEASING PARTY DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, AND THAT, IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER, WOULD HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR OR RELEASED PARTY.

Settlement Class Members, including Plaintiff, may hereafter discover facts in addition to, or different from, those that they now know or believe to be true with respect to the subject matter of the Released Claims, but the Settlement Class Members, including Plaintiff, expressly shall have, and each shall be deemed to have, upon the Effective Date, fully, finally and forever settled and released any and all Released Claims.

The Court has appointed three attorneys to represent the Settlement Class as Class Counsel:

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP

c/o Michael W. Sobol and Douglas I. Cuthbertson

250 Hudson Street, 8th Floor

New York, NY 10013-1413


Carney Bates & Pulliam PLLC

c/o Hank Bates and Lee Lowther

519 W 7th Street

Little Rock, AR 72201


Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, PLLC

c/o Gary M. Klinger

800 S. Gay Street, Suite 1100

Knoxville, Tennessee 37929

Class Counsel will be paid by applying to the Court for an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

Class Counsel’s Attorneys’ Fees Motion and a Service Award. The Settlement provides that Class Counsel may apply to the Court for an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses, not to exceed $730,000. The Settlement further provides that Class Counsel may also request a Service Award for Class Representative in an amount not to exceed $2,500 in recognition for his contribution to the Action and business practice changes. The Attorneys' Fees Motion and Service Award will be available on this website after it is filed with the Court.

The Parties agreed to the remedial measures and injunctive relief that comprise the core benefit of the Settlement before negotiating the maximum amounts of attorneys’ fees and expenses Class Counsel could seek from Epoch. 

Times subject to Court approval. The Parties further agreed they will accept and not appeal the Court’s award of attorneys’ fees and expenses.

Any requests for attorneys’ fees, costs and Service Awards made to the Court will be subject to the Court’s determination at final approval. Those requests are and will be available for review on the this website.

As a Settlement Class Member, you have the right to object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it, including Class Counsel’s request for attorney’s fees and expenses and/or the request for a Service Award for the Class Representative. You cannot ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or reject the Settlement, though it may modify the amount of attorneys’ fees and expenses requested. To be valid, your objection must be in writing, made only to the Court, and must be filed or postmarked by April 22, 2024. If you file a timely written objection, you may, but are not required to, appear at the Final Approval hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for hiring and paying that attorney. All written objections and supporting papers must: (a) clearly identify the case name and number: Czarnionka v. The Epoch Times Association, Inc., Case No.: 1:22-cv-06348-AKH, (b) include the basis for the objection, and (c) be filed or postmarked on or before April 22, 2024. If you do not submit a timely written objection, or if you do not request participation in the Final Approval hearing, you will not be able to participate in the Final Approval hearing.
The Court will hold a Final Approval hearing on May 28, 2024, at 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 before the Honorable Alvin Hellerstein. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court may also decide Class Counsel’s Attorneys' Fees Motion and a Service Award for the Class Representative. The Court may change the date or time of the Final Approval hearing without further notice, so please check this website for any changes.

Class Counsel may be contacted as follows: 

Douglas I. Cuthbertson 

Email: [email protected]  

LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN LLP 

250 Hudson Street, 8th Floor 

New York, NY 10013 


Hank Bates 

Email: [email protected] 

CARNEY BATES & PULLIAM, PLLC 

519 W. 7th Street 

Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

This website contains only a summary of the Action, proceedings to date, and the Settlement. Complete copies of public pleadings, Court rulings and other filings are available for review and copying at 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. Additional information is also available on this website, under the Documents tab, or by contacting Class Counsel at the address provided above.
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.
Call
(833) 933-7183
Mail
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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