1 IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR SARASOTA COUNTY, FLORIDA CIVIL DIVISION KOTA OF SARASOTA, INC. individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. Plaintiff, Case No.: 2011-CA NC Division: C WASTE MANAGEMENT INC. OF FLORIDA, Defendant. Notice of Class Action Settlement If you entered into a written contract with Waste Management Inc. of Florida or one of its affiliates for solid waste and/or recycling collection services in the State of Florida, you may be entitled to a payment from a class action settlement. A Court authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer. The Plaintiff, Kota of Sarasota, Inc., has sued Waste Management Inc. of Florida alleging that it engaged in improper pricing or contracting practices, including but not limited to, the methods of establishing prices for fuel fees and environmental charges in connection with its waste and/or recycling collection services. The Court has conditionally allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a class action for settlement purposes on behalf of all non-franchised, commercial service, including front-end load service, and permanent roll-off customers in Florida who entered into a written Commercial Service Agreement with Waste Management Inc. of Florida ( Open-Market Commercial Customers ) or any of its predecessors, successors, parents, subsidiaries,
2 affiliates or related companies (collectively, WMF ) for services within the State of Florida. Class members include the above Open-Market Commercial Customers who received services at any time between June 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013 (the Settlement Class ). The Circuit Court for the Twelfth Circuit of Florida, Sarasota County, has examined the Settlement Agreement and Release ( Settlement ), and made a preliminary determination that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate for the resolution of the claims of the Settlement Class. A full copy of the Settlement can be found on the Documents page of the Settlement website (www.wmfsettlement.com). Your legal rights are affected whether you act or fail to act. The deadlines to exercise these rights are explained in this notice. Read carefully: YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT DO NOTHING If you fall within the Settlement Class and do nothing, you will automatically receive a check representing your portion of the settlement benefits. EXCLUDE YOURSELF The only way to exclude yourself from the settlement (or opt out ) is to provide timely written or electronic notice as described below. If you opt out, you will not receive the benefits of this settlement but you will not release any claims against WMF and may bring your own lawsuit against WMF, if you choose to do so. OBJECT Write to the Court about why you don t like the settlement. 1. Why did I get this notice? BASIC INFORMATION According to WMF s records, you may have been a party to a written Commercial Service Agreement with WMF providing Open-Market Commercial waste and/or recycling collection service in the State of Florida.
3 The case has been settled and the Court has ordered that you be sent this Notice because you have a right to know your options before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, an administrator appointed by the Court will make settlement payments to everyone who does not timely opt out of the Settlement. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, the benefits available, who is eligible to receive them, the implications of participation in the Settlement, and how to obtain or decline those benefits. The Court in charge of the case is the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in and for Sarasota County, Florida, Civil Division. The Judge in this case is the Honorable Kimberly Bonner. 2. What is a class action? In a class action, one or more plaintiffs, called Class Representatives (in this case, the Plaintiff) sue on behalf of all people and companies that may have similar claims. All these other people and companies are Class Members. One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except those who voluntarily exclude themselves from the class. 3. What is this lawsuit about? The lawsuit claims that Waste Management Inc. of Florida engaged in improper pricing or contracting practices, including but not limited to, the methods of establishing fuel fees and environmental charges related to its services. According to the Plaintiff, by doing these things, Waste Management Inc. of Florida breached the contracts that some of its customers entered into and also violated Florida statutory law. Waste Management Inc. of Florida denies that it did anything wrong, and the Court has not found that WMF did anything wrong. The Class Action Complaint has more information about the lawsuit and can be found on the Documents page of the Settlement website (www.wmfsettlement.com). 4. Why is there a settlement? The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiff or WMF. Instead, both sides agreed to a compromise settlement to avoid the cost and risk of a trial and a possible appeal. The Settlement
4 also ensures that the Settlement Class members will receive compensation. In return, WMF gets a general release of all claims that relate to its pricing or contracting practices to Open-Market Commercial Customers in Florida, and which were or could have been asserted in the lawsuit. The Plaintiff and Plaintiff s and Class Counsel believe the settlement is in the best interest of everyone affected. WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT 5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement? The Court has certified a class (the Class or Settlement Class or Class Members ) defined as: All Open-Market Commercial Customers in Florida who were parties to a written Commercial Service Agreement with Waste Management Inc. of Florida or its affiliates at any time between June 1, 2008 and December 31, If you received written notice of the settlement by postcard or electronic mail, then the parties believe that you are a member of the Class based on WMF s records. 6. If I did not receive written notice, am I still part of the settlement? If you did not receive a written notice, you may still be a part of the settlement class, if your written notice was returned to the Settlement Administrator as undeliverable or was delivered to a former mailing address. If you believe you meet the Class definition in FAQ 5 above, please see FAQ 7 below for details on how to obtain free assistance. 7. What if I m still not sure if I am included? If you are still not sure whether you are included in the settlement as a Class Member, you can get additional information at or obtain free assistance by calling the settlement administrator appointed by the Court at (877) THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS WHAT YOU CAN GET 8. What does the settlement provide?
5 WMF has agreed to establish a Settlement Fund in the amount of $2,750, to be paid to out to those Class Members who do not opt out of the settlement, and after any Court-approved amounts for attorneys fees, class representative incentive awards, and reimbursed litigation expenses are paid from this amount. The remaining amount is referred to as the net settlement fund. 9. What can I expect to get from the settlement? Based on the estimated number of Class Members (taking into account those who cannot be located), and without adjusting for Class Members who opt out or the final amount of any Courtapproved amounts for attorneys fees, class representative incentive awards, and reimbursed litigation expenses, it is estimated that each Class Member will receive a payment of between $20 and $25 from the net settlement fund for each location where it received service from WMF. Each Class Member shall receive the same payment amount multiplied by the number of locations where it received service from WMF. 10. What happens if I do nothing at all? If you do nothing, you will remain a part of the Class and will automatically receive a check for your per capita share of the net settlement fund. You will also release any claims against WMF that relate to WMF s pricing or contracting practices and which were or could have been asserted in the lawsuit. EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT 11. How do I request to be excluded from the class? To exclude yourself from the settlement ( opt out ), you must personally send a letter by U.S. Mail or complete an online notification form that can be found on the Opt Out page of the Settlement website (www.wmfsettlement.com), affirmatively indicating that you want to be excluded from Kota of Sarasota, Inc. v. Waste Management Inc. of Florida, (Civil Action No CA NC). You must also include your name, address, telephone number, and
6 signature. Your request for exclusion must be submitted to and received by the settlement administrator no later than March 30, Any request to opt out sent by mail should be sent to the following address: Kota v. Waste Management Settlement Administrator P.O. Box 4178 Portland, OR You cannot exclude yourself by phone. If you ask to be excluded, you will not get any settlement payment, and you cannot object to the settlement. You also will not be bound by the settlement and any claim you may have against WMF regarding the claims in this lawsuit will not be extinguished. 12. If I remain in the class, what claims are being released? Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Settlement Class, and that means that you can t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against WMF (or other Released Persons) regarding the claims in this lawsuit. It also means that all of the Court s orders will legally bind you. Specifically, you will release any and all causes of action, claims for damages, equitable, legal and administrative relief, interest, penalties, fees, costs, offsets, demands, losses, liabilities or rights, whether based on federal, state, or local statute or ordinance, regulation, contract, common law or any other source known or unknown, whether or not concealed or hidden, including without limitation, claims for breach of contract, violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, sections of the Florida Statutes, claims for injunctive or declaratory relief, and claims for violation of any other state or federal statutes, rules or regulations, including, without limitation, any common law or statutory claims for unlawful, unconscionable, unfair, deceptive or fraudulent business act or practice arising out of, based upon, or related to the facts, transactions, events, occurrences, acts, practices or omissions which were alleged, or could have been alleged, in the lawsuit including, but not limited to, those arising out of any of the following: (i) WMF s (or its affiliates ) pricing or contracting practices for its Open-Market Commercial Customers during the Class Period, including but not limited to, the methods of establishing its prices or price adjustments for services, charges, fees or surcharges, or its method or means of providing notice and obtaining customer consent under the terms of its respective Commercial Service Agreements ( CSA ); and (ii) any claim or allegation that WMF s (or its affiliates ) pricing or contracting practices related to its services, charges, and fuel, environmental and administrative fees or surcharges for its Open-Market Commercial Customers during the Class Period were misleading, deceptive, unlawful, not in compliance with the terms of its Commercial Service Agreements, or otherwise improper or actionable. THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
7 13. Do I have a lawyer in this case? Yes, the Court has appointed the law firms of McCallum, Methvin & Terrell, P.C., Birmingham, Alabama and Najmy Thompson, P.L., Bradenton, Florida to represent you and the other Class Members. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense, but you are not required to do so. 14. How will the lawyers be paid? Under the terms of the settlement, the appointed lawyers for the Class can ask the Court for an award of reasonable attorneys fees up to one-third of the settlement fund, and for reimbursement of litigation expenses up to $25, This award is to compensate the lawyers for the Class Members for the time they spent pursuing this case and the risk they took that no resolution would ever be reached. The appointed lawyers for the class may also seek payment of up to $10, for the Class Representative to compensate it for the time and effort in bringing this lawsuit. The costs to administer the settlement and to provide notice will be paid separately by WMF and won t reduce the amount of the settlement fund. OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT 15. How do I object to the Court if I don t like the settlement? If you re a Class member, you may object to any part of the settlement you don t like, and the Court will have the opportunity to consider your views. You must submit any objection in writing and must provide evidence of your membership in the Class. The procedures for submitting written objections are set out below. A written objection (and any support for it) must be filed with the Clerk of Court and received no later than March 30, 2015 (the Objection Deadline ) by all of the following: Karen E. Rushing James G. Kress J. Matthew Stephens Clerk of the Circuit Court Attn: KOTA Settlement McCallum, Methvin & Terrell, P.C. Attn: Circuit/Civil Baker Botts L.L.P 2201 Arlington Avenue South 2000 Main Street 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. Birmingham, AL Sarasota, FL Washington, DC 20004
8 If you hire an attorney in connection with making an objection, that attorney must file with the Court and serve on the counsel identified above a notice of appearance. The notice of appearance must be filed with the Court and received by the three addressees above no later than the Objection Deadline. If you choose to hire your own attorney, you will be responsible for payment of all fees and expenses that that the attorney incurs on your behalf. If you want to object, you must file your objection in writing to the Court. Your objection must include: the name of the case, Kota of Sarasota, Inc. v. Waste Management Inc. of Florida, Case No.: 2011-CA NC; your name, signature, title, current home and business addresses and home and business phone numbers; a copy of your contracts(s) with WMF and the date you entered into a contract with WMF (or other information sufficient to identify the Settlement Class Member s contract); certification that you are a member of the Settlement Class; a statement of each objection that you are asserting and a detailed description of the basis and the facts underlying and supporting each objection; a detailed description of the legal authorities, if any, underlying and supporting each objection; and the signature, full name, firm name, and business address of all attorneys who have any financial interest in the objection. Any person who wishes to appear at the final approval hearing, either in person or through counsel, must also include the following in their objection filed in writing with the court: a notice of intention to appear, either in person or through an attorney, with the name, address, and telephone number of the attorney, if any, who will appear; the points you or your lawyers wish to address at the hearing; copies of any documents, exhibits and/or affidavits, if any, you may offer or rely upon during the hearing; a list of all witnesses, if any, you may call to testify at the hearing, along with a summary of each witness s anticipated testimony; and a statement of the amount of time you or your lawyer request for speaking at the hearing.
9 You are not required to attend the hearing. Lack of attendance at the Final Fairness Hearing will not prevent the Court from considering your objection. If you do intend to appear, however, the notice of intent to appear must be filed with the Court, and received by the parties above, no later than the Objection Deadline. If you do not file an objection as described above, you will be deemed to have waived any and all objections to the Settlement, to have consented to the Court s certification of and jurisdiction over the Class, and to have released the claims defined as Released Claims in the Settlement Agreement and Release. The Settlement Agreement and Release can be found on the Documents page of the Settlement website (www.wmfsettlement.com). THE COURT S FAIRNESS HEARING 16. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement? The Court will hold a Final Fairness Hearing at 9:30 a.m. on April 28, 2015 in Courtroom 6C, at the Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota, Florida At the hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. You are not required to attend the hearing, but may do so if you wish. If there are objections that have been submitted in writing in advance of the hearing, the Court may consider them and may provide opportunity for persons who have made a prior written request to speak at the hearing to be heard. The Court will also decide whether to pay Class Counsel the amount they are requesting for attorneys fees and reimbursement of litigation expenses, as well as an incentive award to the Class Representative. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION 17. Are there more details about the settlement? This Notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details may be found in the Settlement Agreement and Release, which can be found on the Documents page of the Settlement website (www.wmfsettlement.com). 18. How do I get more information? You can call the Settlement Administrator at (877) or write to the Settlement Administrator at: Kota v. Waste Management
10 Settlement Administrator P.O. Box 4178 Portland, OR You may also contact the Settlement Administrator by at You can also find answers to some common questions on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Settlement website (www.wmfsettlement.com). Please do not contact the Court or Clerk of Court with any questions regarding this case.