Important Update on Amended Settlement: Final Approval Granted
The Court issued Final Approval of the Amended Settlement, a Final Judgment Order, and Approval of Attorney Fees and Service Awards on September 17, 2012 which can be viewed under Court Documents. On October 17, 2012, an appeal was filed. This appeal has now been resolved. Checks for eligible Settlement Class Members who elected to receive a Cash Award were distributed beginning the week of February 22, 2013.
An Amended Settlement Agreement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against Sallie Mae, Inc. (“Sallie Mae”) for contacts (by calls or text messages) allegedly made to cellular telephones through the use of automated telephone dialing systems and/or artificial or prerecorded voice (“automated calls”).
The Representative Plaintiffs claim that the calls at issue violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. (the “TCPA”). Sallie Mae strongly denies these claims and any wrongdoing, and has agreed to settle only to avoid the burden and cost of litigation.
Who is included as a Class Member in this Amended Settlement?
You may be a Class Member if, on or after October 27, 2005 to September 14, 2010, you received one or more automated calls from Sallie Mae or another affiliate or subsidiary of SLM Corporation. Affiliates or Subsidiaries of SLM Corporation other than Sallie Mae that may have made the automated calls include: Academic Management Services Corp.; Academic Management Services, Inc.; AFS US, Inc.; AFS-HOV LLC; AMS Education Loan Trust; Arrow Financial International, LLC; Arrow Financial Services, LLC; Arrow Global, LLC; Asset Performance Group, Inc.; Asset Performance Group, LLC; General Revenue Corporation; GRP/AG Holdings, LLC; GRP Financial Services Corp.; Nellie Mae Corporation; Nellie Mae Holding, LLC; Noel-Levitz, Inc.; Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc.; Pioneer Mortgage Inc.; Sallie Mae Bank; Sallie Mae – Canada Financial Corporation; Sallie Mae Education Trust; Sallie Mae Home Loans, Inc.; Sallie Mae, Inc.; SLM DE Corporation; SLM Financial Corporation; Student Assistance Corporation; SLM Corporation; SLM Education Credit Finance Corporation; SLM Education Loan Corp.; SLM Mortgage Corporation; Southwest Student Services Corporation; Student Loan Finance Association, Inc.; Student Loan Funding Resources LLC; TrueCareers, Inc.; Upromise, Inc.; Upromise Investments, Inc.; and USA Group Loan Services, LLC.
What does the Amended Settlement provide?
The primary focus of the Amended Settlement will be prospective changes to the challenged practices, which will allow you to require that the automated calls no longer be placed to your cellular telephone number. Sallie Mae also has agreed to pay $24.15 million into the Settlement Fund (the “Fund”), out of which eligible Settlement Class Members who filed timely and valid claims will receive a monetary award in the form of cash or a reduction to an outstanding loan. Monetary awards may be reduced pro rata, based on the number of valid and timely claims received. While it is not possible to predict the precise amount of the monetary award until all claims have been submitted, the Parties estimate that the amount of the award will be within the range of $20.00 to $40.00 for each Settlement Class Member. In no event shall the monetary award exceed a total of $500.00 per Settlement Class Member. The Fund will also be used to pay Class Counsel’s Court-awarded attorneys’ fees and costs, service awards to three Representative Plaintiffs and all costs of notice and claims administration. In addition, to cover the claims of certain Class Members who have not had any lending or servicing relationship with Sallie Mae or another affiliate or subsidiary of SLM Corporation, Sallie Mae will make a cy pres contribution in the amount of at least $85,000 to organization(s) devoted to promoting higher education.
- Participate in the Amended Settlement. The deadline to file a Claim Form or Revocation Request Form passed on August 31, 2012. If you submitted a Revocation Request Form, neither Sallie Mae nor another affiliate or subsidiary of SLM Corporation shall make automated calls to the cellular number that you list on the Revocation Request Form. If you remain in the Settlement Class, all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you, and you give up your right to be part of any other lawsuit or arbitration against Sallie Mae or another affiliate or subsidiary of SLM Corporation regarding automated calls to a cellular phone. Claims pertaining to other subjects are not released. To read the full release from the Settlement Agreement, please click here.
- Exclude Yourself (“Opt Out”) from the Amended Settlement. You will not receive any money or other benefits from the Settlement if you excluded yourself. The deadline to exclude yourself was July 3, 2012.
- Class Members who excluded themselves from the original Settlement were entitled to withdraw that exclusion and participate in the Amended Settlement by informing the Claims Administrator of their wish to do so in writing, postmarked by July 3, 2012.
- Object to or Comment on the Amended Settlement including Class Counsel's Attorney Fee Application. You were entitled to object or comment on the Amended Settlement or Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs by sending your objection or comment to the addresses listed at FAQ 17 postmarked by July 3, 2012. If you objected, you will still be bound by all Court orders. All persons who timely objected to the Amended Settlement by July 3, 2012 may appear at the Final Approval Hearing if they included a statement of their intention to do so with their objection. The Court will consider timely objections whether or not those who submit such objections appear at the hearing. You can find further information in FAQ 17 found on this website. Class Counsel’s motion for payment of fees and costs of $4,830,000 and documents in support of that request are available on this website. No portion of the increased contribution to the Settlement Fund pursuant to the Amended Settlement will be sought or paid as an award of attorneys’ fees or incentive payments to the named plaintiffs.
- Do Nothing. If you did nothing before the deadlines described above and have not previously submitted a Claim Form or Revocation Request, you will not receive any benefits under the Settlement. You will not revoke the ability of Sallie Mae or another affiliate or subsidiary of SLM Corporation to call you on a cellular telephone through the use of automated calls, and you will not receive any monetary award in this Amended Settlement. Additionally, if you did not submit an exclusion request, you lose the right to sue Sallie Mae regarding any issues relating to the action. You will be considered part of the Settlement Class, and all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you.
The Court held a Fairness Hearing on September 14, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, 700 Stewart Street, Seattle, WA 98101. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court considered whether the Amended Settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate, and should be granted final approval. The Court considered all objections. The Court also considered Class Counsel's request for attorneys’ fees, costs, expenses, and incentive awards to the Representative Plaintiffs. Class Counsel asked for $4,830,000 of the $24,150,000 Settlement Fund. The Court granted final approval to the Amended Settlement on September 17, 2012.
To view your filing options, see Important Dates. Please continue to visit this website for updates to the Settlement.