1 Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri NOTICE OF PENDENCY OF CLASS ACTION, PROPOSED SETTLEMENT AND HEARING A court authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer. If you paid an Environmental Surcharge ( Surcharge ) for DRY CLEANING to American Cleaners Missouri stores (sometimes hereinafter Cleaners ) between August 15, 2007 and August 15, 2012, you might be eligible to receive a benefit from a class action settlement. The settlement will provide qualifying persons with Eight (8) One Dollar ($1.00) Vouchers or the total amount of Surcharges you can verify you paid to Cleaners for DRY CLEANING during August 15, 2007 and August 15, 2012, whichever amount is higher. If you can verify payments to American Cleaners in excess of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) during August 15, 2007 and August 15, 2012, you shall be entitled to receive Vouchers for 4% of the total payments. The settlement resolves a lawsuit concerning the legality of the Surcharge assessed by Cleaners for dry cleaned garments. The two sides disagree about whether the Surcharge was proper, and if it was improper, how much the plaintiffs would have been entitled to. The parties have agreed to resolve this case by a settlement. Your legal rights are affected whether you act, or don t act. Read this notice carefully. YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT Submit A Claim Form Exclude Yourself Object Go To A Hearing Do Nothing The only way to get a benefit. Get no benefit. This is the only option that allows you to ever be part of any other lawsuit against Cleaners about the legal claims in this case. Write to the Court about why you don t like the settlement. Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the settlement. Receive none of the settlement benefits. Release the legal claims in this case. The rights and options and the deadlines to exercise them are explained in this notice. The Court still has to decide whether to approve this settlement, which may take some time. Please be patient.
2 WHAT THIS NOTICE CONTAINS BASIC INFORMATION Why am I entitled to this notice package? What is this lawsuit about? Why is this a class action? Why is there a settlement?... 4 WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT How do I know if I am part of the settlement? I m still not sure if I am included THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS WHAT YOU GET What does the settlement provide?... 4 HOW YOU RECEIVE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS SUBMITTING A CLAIM FORM How can I get a benefit? When would I get my benefit? What am I giving up to get a benefit or stay in the class?... 5 EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT How do I get out of the settlement? If I don t exclude myself, can I sue Cleaners for the same thing later? If I exclude myself, can I get benefits from this settlement?... 6 THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU Do I have a lawyer in this case? How will the lawyers be paid?... 6 OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT How do I tell the Court that I don t like the settlement? What s the difference between objecting and excluding?... 7 THE COURT S FAIRNESS HEARING When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement? Do I have to come to the hearing? May I speak at the hearing?... 8 IF YOU DO NOTHING What happens if I do nothing at all?... 8 GETTING MORE INFORMATION Are there more details about the settlement? How do I get more information?
3 BASIC INFORMATION 1. Why am I entitled to this notice package? You are receiving this notice because you have been identified as a potential member of a Settlement Class consisting of: All individuals who, between the time period of August 15, 2007 through August 15, 2012, purchased DRY CLEANING services from American Cleaners Missouri stores for personal, family or household purposes and were charged an Environmental Surcharge. EXCLUDED FROM THE CLASS ARE (I) DEFENDANTS AND THEIR OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, SHAREHOLDERS, PARTNERS, AND OWNERS; (II) THE COURT PRESIDING OVER ANY MOTION TO APPROVE THIS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT; AND (III) THOSE PERSONS WHO TIMELY AND VALIDLY REQUEST EXCLUSION FROM THE SETTLEMENT CLASS. As such, you are entitled to this Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement, and objections or appeals relating to that settlement are resolved, the benefits provided for by the settlement will be available to qualified persons. This package explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them. The Court in charge of this case is the Circuit Court for the County of St. Louis, Missouri, and the case is known as Green. v. American Cleaners and Laundry Co, Inc. et al., Case No. 12SL-CC The persons who sued are called the Plaintiffs or the Class Plaintiffs, and the named individuals and various American Cleaners stores in the State of Missouri are the Defendants. 2. What is this lawsuit about? The lawsuit mainly claims that Cleaners unlawfully charged its customers an Environmental Surcharge in connection with the sale of Dry Cleaning services in violation of Missouri Revised Statutes, et seq. The Class Plaintiff alleges that American Cleaners is liable for damages to the Class. American Cleaners believes that the Class Plaintiffs factual and legal allegations in the lawsuit are incorrect and specifically denies all liability to the Class Plaintiff and the Settlement Class. This Notice does not imply that there has been any finding of any violation of the law by Cleaners or that recovery could be had in a certain amount. Although the Court has authorized Notice to be given of the proposed settlement, this Notice does not express the opinion of the Court on the merits of the claims or defenses asserted by either side in the Lawsuit. 3. Why is this a class action? Class actions are lawsuits in which the claims and rights of many people are decided in a single court proceeding. A Representative Plaintiff ( Class Representative ) is named in the lawsuit to assert the claims of the entire class. This avoids the necessity for a large number of people to file similar individual lawsuits and enables the court system to resolve similar claims in an efficient and economical way. Class actions provide a vehicle whereby people with similar claims are treated alike. In a class action, the court is guardian of class interests and supervises the prosecution of the class claims by class counsel to assure that the representation is adequate. Class members are not individually responsible for the costs or fees of counsel, which are subject to court award
4 4. Why is there a settlement? The Court did not decide in favor of the Class Representatives or Cleaners. Class Counsel has investigated the facts and applicable law regarding the Class Representative s claims and Cleaners defenses. The parties have engaged in lengthy and arms-length negotiations in reaching this settlement. The Class Representative and Class Counsel believe that the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and in the best interests of the class. Both sides agree that, by settling, Cleaners is not admitting any liability or that it did anything wrong, but both sides want to avoid the uncertainties and high cost in time and money in litigation of this type. Who Is In The Settlement To see if you will get a benefit from this settlement, you first have to decide if you are a Class Member. 5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement? You are a part of the settlement if you purchased DRY CLEANING services from any American Cleaners Missouri store between August 15, 2007 and August 15, The Settlement Class excludes (i) Defendants and their officers, directors, shareholders, partners, and owners; (ii) the Court presiding over any motion to approve this Settlement Agreement; and (iii) those persons who timely and validly request exclusion from the Settlement Class. 6. I m still not sure if I am included. If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can ask for free help. for more information. You can visit 7. What does the settlement provide? The Settlement Benefits What You Get If you determine that you are a member of the class and file a timely and valid Claim Form, you will receive: Customers of Cleaners who purchased DRY CLEANING services for personal, family or household purposes from August 15, 2007 through August 15, 2012 will receive One Dollar Vouchers ($1.00); the number of vouchers you will receive will be either eight (8) or a total value in vouchers equal to the total amount of Surcharges you can verify you paid to Cleaners for DRY CLEANING during the time period of August 15, 2007 through August 15, 2012, or a total value equal to 4% of the total amount of payments you can verify you paid to Cleaners during the time period August 15, 2007 through August 15, 2012 (if you can verify that you paid Cleaners more than $200 during that time period), whichever amount is the highest. The Vouchers can be used the same as cash at any American Cleaners Missouri store during a period that extends twelve (12) months from the date of issuance. The Vouchers are not transferable, are only available to one member per household, and can only be used one per day
5 How You Receive Settlement Benefits Submitting A Claim Form 8. How can I get a benefit? If the settlement is approved by the Court and to qualify for benefits, you must send in a complete, accurate and appropriate Claim Form. You can submit a claim form online at: You can also submit a Claim Form by mail. Claim Forms are available at each American Cleaners Missouri store. Read the instructions carefully, fill out and sign the form, and mail it postmarked no later than April 16, 2014 to: American Cleaners Class Action Settlement c/o Dahl Administration P.O. Box 3614 Minneapolis MN If you change your address, you must mail a notification of your new address to the claims administrator. 9. When would I get my benefit? The Court will hold a hearing on May 16, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. to decide whether to approve the settlement. If the settlement is approved the Claims Administrator will process the Claim Forms and send out the benefits as soon as possible. This may take some time, so please be patient. 10. What am I giving up to get a benefit or stay in the class? Upon the Court s approval of the settlement, the class members who do not exclude themselves, regardless of whether or not a Claim Form is filed, will release and forever discharge Cleaners, its predecessors in interest, successors in interest, and any of its parents, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, officers, directors, employees, trustees, principals, attorneys, agents, representatives, vendors, shareholders, as well as any person acting or purporting to act on its behalf or on behalf of those in privity with Cleaners and the Settlement Class members from any and all claims, demands, debts, liabilities, actions, causes of action of every kind and nature, obligations, damages, losses, and costs, whether known or unknown, actual or potential, suspected or unsuspected, direct or indirect, contingent or fixed, that were or could have been asserted or sought in the Lawsuit, relating in any way or arising out of (a) Cleaners charging of a Surcharge on garments for DRY CLEANING and (b) any and all claims that were asserted or could have been asserted by the Settlement Class in the Action with respect to Cleaners Surcharge ( the Settled Claims ). On January 30, 2014 the Court entered an order barring and enjoining all Settlement Class members from commencing or prosecuting any court actions asserting the Settled Claims, either directly, representatively, derivatively or in any other capacity, against any American Cleaners Missouri store, pending the final determination of whether this settlement should be approved. In order to file a separate action asserting any of the Settled Claims, you must exclude yourself from the settlement. 11. How do I get out of the settlement? Excluding Yourself From The Settlement If you choose to be excluded from the Settlement Class, you will not be bound by any judgment or other final disposition of this lawsuit. You will retain any claims against Cleaners you might have. To request exclusion, you must state in writing your desire to be excluded from the Settlement Class. You must sign your request for exclusion - 5 -
6 personally or by legal counsel. Your request must include: (1) your full name, current address, date when and address where you were charged a Surcharge by Cleaners (2) your signature; and (3) a specific statement that I want to be excluded from the Settlement Class. Request for exclusions must be postmarked no later than April 16, If you fail to mail in an exclusion you will be included in the Settlement Class automatically. Mail your notice to: American Cleaners Class Action Settlement c/o Dahl Administration P.O. Box 3614 Minneapolis MN Request for exclusions must be postmarked no later than April 16, If you fail to mail in an exclusion you will be included in the Settlement Class automatically. If you do not request exclusion, regardless of whether or not you file a Claim Form, you will be bound by the terms of the settlement approved by the Court, including without limitation, the judgment ultimately rendered in the Lawsuit, and you will be barred from bringing any claims which arise out of or relate in any way to American Cleaners charging you a Surcharge. 12. If I don t exclude myself, can I sue Cleaners for the same thing later? No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Cleaners for the claims that this settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that case immediately. 13. If I exclude myself, can I get benefits from this settlement? No. If you exclude yourself, do not send in a Claim Form. 14. Do I have a lawyer in this case? The Lawyers Representing You The Court has appointed Shatonya Green as Class Representative. The Court has appointed the following attorneys as Class Counsel : Richard S. Cornfeld Law office of Richard S. Cornfeld 1010 Market Street, Suite 1605 St. Louis, MO Anthony Bruning Anthony Bruning, Jr. Leritz, Plunkert& Bruning, P.C. 555 Washington Avenue, Suite 600 St. Louis, MO Class Counsel represents the interests of the Class, and you will not be charged for their services. You may hire your own attorney to advise you, but if you hire your own attorney, you will be responsible for paying that attorney s fees. 15. How will the lawyers be paid? Class Counsel will apply to the Court for an award of reasonable attorneys fees and expenses and Class Representatives compensation is to be paid by Cleaners. Subject to Court approval, Cleaners also have agreed to pay the cost of administering this Settlement, attorneys fees and expenses, and Class Representative s compensation if awarded by the Court, over and above the benefits you may be entitled to receive as a Settlement Class member. The benefits you receive will not be reduced by the payment of fees, expenses, or court costs to Class Counsel or the Class Representative s compensation
7 Objecting To The Settlement 16. How do I tell the Court that I don t like the settlement? Each Settlement Class member wishing to object to the settlement shall submit a timely written notice of his/her objection. Such notice shall state: (i) the objector's full name, current address, telephone number and address and the date when and address where the objector paid an Environmental Surcharge to Cleaners, and (ii) why the objector objects to the proposed settlement and any reasons supporting such position. Any party wishing to object must provide copies of any documents the objector intends to rely upon, the names and addresses of any witnesses who will appear at the hearing, and the name of any counsel representing the objector. If the objector intends to appear personally at the Settlement Fairness Hearing, the objector must include with the objection a notice of the objector s intention to appear at the hearing. To be timely, written notice of an objection, along with any Notices of Intent to Appear, must be postmarked no later than April 16, 2014 and mailed to Class Counsels and counsels for Cleaners. Depositions may be taken in order to determine the grounds for your objection. The deposition must be limited to the topics relating to the objection. The addresses for Class Counsels are: Richard S. Cornfeld Anthony Bruning Law office of Richard S. Cornfeld Anthony Bruning, Jr Market Street, Suite 1605 Leritz, Plunkert& Bruning, P.C. St. Louis, Missouri Washington Ave., Suite 600 St. Louis, Missouri The addresses for counsels representing Cleaners are: Lawrence Hartstein David Bender The Hartstein Law Firm, P.C. Richard Bender 130 S. Bemiston Avenue, Ste. 608 Rosenblum Goldenhersh, P.C. Clayton, Missouri Forsyth Blvd., 4 th Floor Clayton, Missouri Any Settlement Class member who does not file and serve an objection in the time and manner described above will not be permitted to raise that objection later. 17. What s the difference between objecting and excluding? Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don t like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don t want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you. The Court s Fairness Hearing 18. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement? There will be a hearing to consider approval of the proposed settlement on May 16, 2014 beginning at 2:30 p.m., in Division 13 of the St. Louis County Circuit Courthouse, 7900 Carondelet, Clayton, Missouri, The hearing may be postponed to a later date without further notice. The purpose of the hearing is to determine the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the terms of settlement; whether the Settlement Class is adequately represented by the Class Representatives and Class Counsels; and whether an order and final judgment should be entered approving the - 7 -
8 proposed settlement. The Court also will consider Class Counsels application for an award of attorneys fees and expenses and Class Representatives compensation to be paid by Cleaners in the amount awarded by the Court. You will be represented at the hearing on the fairness of the settlement by Class Counsel, unless you choose to enter an appearance in person or through your own counsel. The appearance of your own attorney is not necessary to participate in the hearing on the fairness of the settlement. As a member of the Class, you will not be personally responsible for attorneys fees or cost disbursements except those of your own counsel. 19. Do I have to come to the hearing? No. Class Counsel will represent the Class at the hearing, but you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send any objection, you don t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it s not necessary. 20. May I speak at the hearing? You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must send with your objection a notice of intention to appear at the hearing as described in paragraph 16 above. You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself. 21. What happens if I do nothing at all? If You Do Nothing If you do nothing, you ll get no benefit from this settlement. But, unless you exclude yourself, you won t be able to start a lawsuit, continue a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Cleaners or their affiliates or successors about the legal issues in this case, ever again. 22. Are there more details about the settlement? Getting More Information This Notice is only a summary. For a more detailed statement of the matters involved in the Lawsuit or the Settlement, you may refer to the papers filed in this Lawsuit during regular business hours at the office of the Clerk of the Court, Circuit Court for the County of St. Louis, 7900 Carondelet, Clayton, Missouri, File: Green. v. American Cleaners and Laundry Co, Inc. et al., Case No. 12SL-CC The full Settlement Agreement and the pleadings filed in the Lawsuit can be requested, in writing, from Class Counsel identified in Paragraph 14 above. 23. How do I get more information? You can visit write Class Counsel at the addresses provided in paragraph 14 above. Please do not contact the court for information