Hansen-Mitchell, et al. v. Welspun USA, Inc., et al.
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This case involves Subject Products, which are all home textile cotton products manufactured, distributed, marketed, advertised, or sold by Welspun that were labeled or marketed in any way as “Egyptian Cotton” or “Pima Cotton,” whether in-store or online, in the United States or any of its territories between January 1, 2012 and July 2, 2019. The Subject Products include, but are not limited to, those listed in Exhibit C to the Settlement Agreement.
For purposes of Settlement only, the Court has conditionally certified a Settlement Class that is defined as all Persons who purchased, for non-commercial use and not for the purposes of resale, any Subject Product between January 1, 2012 and July 2, 2019 in the United States or any of its territories.
If the Settlement does not become effective (for example, because it is not finally approved by the court, or the approval is reversed on appeal), then this litigation will continue.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants improperly marketed and labeled the Subject Products as “Egyptian Cotton” and “Pima Cotton.” Defendants contend that the Subject Products are marketed and labeled accurately; Defendants also contend that the Settlement Class has neither suffered any injury nor is it entitled to monetary or other relief. The Court has not determined whether Plaintiffs or Defendants are correct.
While Defendants deny that there is any legal entitlement to any monetary relief, Plaintiffs contend that the Defendants caused consumers to purchase the Subject Products when they would not otherwise have done so and/or the Defendants caused consumers to pay more for the Subject Products as a result of the marketing or labeling. The lawsuit seeks to recover money damages on behalf of a class of all purchasers (except those who are otherwise excluded under the Settlement Agreement and those who purchased the Subject Products for resale purposes).
Counsel for both Plaintiffs and Defendants have determined that there is significant risk in continuing the litigation. Among other issues, there may be substantial difficulties establishing that: (i) Defendants’ marketing and/or labeling of the Subject Products was false or likely to deceive or confuse reasonable persons; (ii) the Subject Products’ “Egyptian Cotton” and “Pima Cotton” labels and/or marketing was material to reasonable consumers; (iii) any price premium can be attributed to the marketing or labeling of the Subject Products as “Egyptian Cotton” or “Pima Cotton,” and/or (iv) damages or restitution should be awarded and, if so, that any such award should be more than nominal. In particular, it may be difficult to establish that different marketing and labeling would have changed the volume of sales or the pricing of the Subject Products. After considering the risks and costs of further litigation, the Parties have concluded that it is desirable that the Plaintiffs’ claims be settled and dismissed on the terms of the Settlement Agreement, as amended by the Supplemental Agreement. Plaintiffs and their counsel believe that the terms and conditions of the Settlement are fair, reasonable, adequate, and equitable, and that the Settlement is in the best interest of the Settlement Class Members.
Settlement Class Members may elect either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Claim, for Subject Products purchased between January 1, 2012, and July 2, 2019, regardless of the price the Settlement Class Member paid, subject to further adjustments or reductions. Tier 1 and Tier 2 Claims offer Benefits for two categories of Subject Products: (i) towels and pillowcases and (ii) all other products, as outlined on Exhibit A of the Settlement Agreement. In consideration for the Settlement and Releases given herein and subject to the rights, terms, and conditions of the Settlement Agreement, Defendants will pay or cause to be paid Valid Claims based upon the election of the Settlement Class Member and for which the Settlement Class Member qualifies:
(a) Tier 1. Settlement Class Members who elect to fill out the Claim Form for Tier 1 and who provide valid Proof of Purchase may recover: (i) up to a maximum of two dollars and thirty cents ($2.30) per Subject Product for towels and pillowcases; and (ii) up to a maximum of nine dollars and twenty cents ($9.20) per Subject Product for all other products purchased during the Class Period. There is no Household limit for Tier 1 Claims.
(b) Tier 2. Settlement Class Members who elect to fill out the Claim Form for Tier 2 and who do not have a valid Proof of Purchase may recover: (i) up to a maximum of one dollar and fifteen cents ($1.15) per Subject Product for towels and pillowcases; and (ii) up to a maximum of four dollars and sixty cents ($4.60) per Subject Product for other products purchased during the Class Period. There is a ten dollars and thirty-five cents ($10.35) Household cap for Tier 2 Claims.
(c) Tier 3. All individuals who already have received a Refund and (i) for whom the Settlement Administrator has a valid U.S. mailing or email address or (ii) who timely submit a request for voucher shall receive a voucher that is good for the greater of a ten percent (10%) one-time discount or a five dollars and zero cents ($5.00) credit on a future purchase through one or more online outlets to be specified on the voucher. Vouchers will be fully transferable but cannot be clubbed and will expire within one (1) year of issuance. The vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash.
A Settlement Class Member may file only a single Claim electing either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Claim. Only one Claim per Household is eligible.
The Settlement Amount is for Valid Claims and is capped at $36,000,000. The Settlement Administrator may make further adjustments to the Benefit depending upon the specific number of Valid Claims and information provided during the Claim process.
The Settlement also provides for a permanent injunction requiring Defendants to implement marketing reforms to ensure that they will accurately market, advertise, and label home textile cotton products as “Egyptian Cotton” or “Pima Cotton.”
“Proof of Purchase” means a receipt or other documentation from a third-party commercial source that, in the sole discretion of the Settlement Administrator, reasonably establishes (i) the Subject Products at issue, (ii) the quantity of Subject Products at issue purchased, and (iii) that the Subject Products at issue were purchased in the United States or any of its territories during the Class Period.
Claims will be paid only if deemed valid and only after the Court approves the Settlement.
To make a Claim, you must fill out and submit a Claim Form, available via the 'Submit Claim' button or the 'Documents' section of this Website. You can submit the Claim Form online, or you can print it and mail it to the Settlement Administrator at: Hansen-Mitchell v. Welspun USA, Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 58727, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8727. The Claims Period opens on September 28, 2019 and Claim Forms must be submitted online or postmarked by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on November 27, 2019. Benefit Checks, to the extent not already distributed, will be issued only if the Court grants final approval of the proposed Settlement and after the final approval is no longer subject to appeal, and the Claim Form is determined to be valid by the Settlement Administrator. Please be patient as this may take months or even years in the event of an appeal.
Filing a Claim does not provide a guaranteed Benefit. A Fairness Hearing is scheduled for October 28, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. Central Time. If the Court approves the Settlement and there are no appeals, then Benefit Checks, to the extent not already distributed, will be distributed approximately 60 days after the Settlement is no longer subject to appeal or review, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. If the Court does not approve the Settlement, or if the Settlement is overturned on appeal, no Benefit Checks, to the extent not already distributed, will be issued.
To date, Class Counsel has not been compensated for any of their work on this case. As part of the Settlement, Class Counsel may apply to the Court to award them an amount to be determined, but up to $9,000,000 (or the equivalent of 25% of the value of the Settlement Amount). Defendants are to pay Class Counsel's Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses.
In addition, the named Class Representatives in this case may apply to the Court for a Class Service Award up to $750 per plaintiff. This payment is designed to compensate the named Class Representatives for the time, effort, and risks they undertook in pursuing litigation.
Class Counsel shall file its application for a Fee Award and Class Service Award no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the hearing on final approval. A copy of that application and other relevant agreements will be available on this website. Defendants have the right to object to the application for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses only if such application is in excess of Nine Million Dollars ($9,000,000). The Court will determine the amount of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses as well as the amount of Class Service Awards. Any award of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses and Class Service Awards shall be in addition, not part of or subject to, the cap on the Settlement Amount.
If you are a Class Member and you do not Opt-Out from the Settlement, you will be legally bound by all orders and judgments of the Court, and you will also be legally bound to the Releases of the Claims in the Settlement. This means that in exchange for being a Settlement Class Member and being eligible for the Benefits of the Settlement, you will not be able to sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Welspun USA, Inc., Welspun India Limited, and Welspun Global Brands Limited and/or any of the Released Parties that involves the Released Claims.
You will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs or attorneys’ fees concerning this case if you stay in the class.
Staying in the class also means that you agree to the following terms of the Settlement that describe exactly the legal Claims that you give up:
(a) Upon the Effective Date and without any further action by the Court or by any Party to this Agreement, the Settlement Class Members and Plaintiffs, including any Person claiming rights derivative of any Settlement Class Member or Plaintiff as their parent, child, heir, guardian, associate, co-owner, attorney, agent, administrator, executor, devisee, predecessor, successor, assignee, assigns, representative of any kind, shareholder, partner, director, employee or affiliate, shall be deemed to have, and by operation of the judgment shall have fully, finally, and forever released, relinquished, and discharged against the Released Persons all Released Claims (including, without limitation, any unknown claims), as well as any claims arising out of, relating to, or in connection with, the prosecution, defense, mediation, settlement, disposition, or resolution of the Action or the Released Claims.
(b) Without limiting the foregoing, the Releases specifically extend to any claims that the Releasing Parties do not know or suspect to exist in their favor at the time that the Settlement, and the Releases contained herein, becomes effective. This Section constitutes a waiver of any and all provisions, rights, and benefits conferred by any law of any state of the United States, or principle of common law or otherwise, which is similar, comparable, or equivalent to section 1542 of the California Civil Code, which provides:
A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE CREDITOR DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER MUST HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR.
Plaintiffs understand and acknowledge the significance of these waivers of California Civil Code section 1542 and any other applicable federal or state statute, case law, rule, or regulation relating to limitations on releases. In connection with such waivers and relinquishment, the Releasing Parties acknowledge that they are aware that they may hereafter discover facts in addition to, or different from, those facts that they now know or believe to be true with respect to the subject matter of the Settlement, but that it is their intention to release fully, finally, and forever all Released Claims with respect to the Released Parties, and in furtherance of such intention, the release of the Released Claims will be and remain in effect notwithstanding the discovery or existence of any such additional or different facts.
(c) The Parties shall be deemed to have agreed that the release set forth herein will be and may be raised as a complete defense to and will preclude any action or proceeding based on the Released Claims. The Final Approval Order shall further provide for and effect the release of all actions, causes of action, claims, administrative claims, demands, debts, damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, obligations, judgments, expenses, compensation, or liabilities, in law or in equity, whether now known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, contingent or absolute, whether existing now or arising in the future, whether asserted or that could or might have been asserted, that Releasing Parties now have or may have against the Released Parties by reason of any act, omission, harm, matter, cause, or event whatsoever arising out of the initiation, prosecution, or settlement of the Action or the claims and defenses asserted in, or could have been asserted in, the Action.
(d) “Released Parties” means Welspun USA, Inc., Welspun India Limited, Welspun Global Brands Limited, and each of their respective current and former suppliers, retailers, distributors, manufacturers, sales vendors, marketers, advertisers, and salespersons, and each of their respective current or former parents, subsidiaries, Affiliates, successors, assigns, officers, directors, agents, employees, employers, attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, commercial bank lenders, insurers, investment bankers, representatives, general and limited partners, partnerships, any trust of which any of Welspun USA, Inc., Welspun India Limited, Welspun Global Brands Limited is a settlor, trustee or beneficiary, heirs, executors, administrators, successors, affiliates, and assigns of each of them. For the avoidance of doubt, retailers shall include all entities that sold any Subject Product in the United States during the Class Period, including, but not limited to, those products identified in Exhibit C to the Settlement Agreement.
You can Opt-Out from the Settlement Class if you wish to retain the right to sue Defendants separately for the Released Claims. If you Opt-Out, you cannot file a Claim or Objection to the Settlement.
To Opt-Out, you must complete the online form on this website or mail an Opt-Out request to the Settlement Administrator at Hansen-Mitchell v. Welspun USA, P.O. Box 58727, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8727, with copies mailed to Class Counsel and Counsel for Defendant. The Opt-Out request must be submitted online or postmarked to the Settlement Administrator by the Opt-Out Deadline of October 11, 2019.
You can ask the Court to deny approval of the Settlement by timely filing an Objection with the Court. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger Settlement; the Court can only approve or disallow the Settlement. If the Court denies approval to the entire Settlement, no Benefit Checks, to the extent not already distributed, will be sent out, and the lawsuit will continue.
You can also ask the Court to disapprove the requested payments to Plaintiffs and to their attorneys.
You may also appear at the Fairness Hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney.
If you want to raise an Objection to the Settlement at the Fairness Hearing, you must submit that Objection in writing, by October 11, 2019. Any Objection must include: (i) a reference at the beginning to this case: Hansen-Mitchell v. Welspun USA, Inc., Case No. 19-L-0391, Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial Circuit, Court of St. Clair, State of Illinois; (ii) the name, address, telephone number, and, if available, the email address of the Person objecting, and if represented by counsel, of his/her counsel; (iii) a written statement of all grounds for the Objection, accompanied by any legal support for such Objection; (iv) whether he/she intends to appear at the Fairness Hearing, either with or without counsel; (v) a statement of his/her membership in the Settlement Class, including all information required by the Claim Form; (vi) a detailed list of any other objections submitted by the Settlement Class Member, or his/her counsel, to any class actions submitted in any court, whether state or otherwise, in the United States in the previous five (5) years. If the Settlement Class Member or his/her counsel has not objected to any other class action settlement in any court in the United States in the previous five (5) years, he/she shall affirmatively state so in the written materials provided in connection with the Objection to this Settlement; and (vii) the Objector’s signature and the signature of the Objector’s duly authorized attorney or other duly authorized representative (along with documentation setting forth such representation). Failure to include this information and documentation may be grounds for overruling and rejecting your Objection. All information listed herein must be filed with the Clerk of the Court, delivered by mail, express mail, personal delivery, or electronic filing, such that the Objection is received by the Clerk on or before the Objection Deadline.
By filing an Objection, you consent to the jurisdiction of the Court, including to any order of the Court to produce documents or provide testimony prior to the Fairness Hearing. You further consent to a deposition, at the request of Class Counsel or Defendants’ counsel, at least five (5) days prior to the Fairness Hearing.
If you file an Objection to the Settlement but still want to submit a Claim in the event the Court approves the Settlement, you must still timely submit a Claim Form according to the instructions described above.
You must also send a copy of your Objection to the Settlement Administrator at Hansen-Mitchell v. Welspun USA, P.O. Box 58727, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8727, to Class Counsel, and to Defendants’ Counsel:
Bruce W. Steckler
STECKLER GRESHAM COCHRAN PLLC
1720 Hillcrest Road, Suite 1045
Dallas, TX 75230
Atif Khawaja, P.C.
KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP
601 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
The Court will hold a hearing on October 28, 2019 to consider whether to grant final approval of the Settlement. The hearing will be held in the Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial Circuit, Court of St. Clair, State of Illinois, St. Clair County Building, 10 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220 before the Honorable Judge Christopher T. Kolker in Courtroom 401, 4th Floor, at 9:00 a.m. Central Time. The hearing is open to the public. This hearing date may change without further notice to you. Consult this Website or the Court docket in this case available through the Court’s website (http://www.circuitclerk.co.st-clair.il.us/courts/Pages/default.aspx), for updated information on the hearing date and time.
You can inspect many of the court documents connected with this case on this website. Other papers filed in this lawsuit are available by accessing the Court docket in this case available through the Court’s website (http://www.circuitclerk.co.st-clair.il.us/courts/Pages/default.aspx).
You can contact the Settlement Administrator at Hansen-Mitchell v. Welspun USA, P.O. Box 58727, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8727 or call toll-free 1-844-271-4781.
You can also obtain additional information by contacting Class Counsel:
Bruce W. Steckler
STECKLER GRESHAM COCHRAN, PLLC
12720 Hillcrest Road #1045
Dallas, Texas 75230
All individuals who already have received a Refund and: (i) for whom the Settlement Administrator has a valid U.S. mailing or email address; or (ii) who timely submit a request for voucher shall receive a voucher. For those individuals for whom the Settlement Administrator has a valid U.S. mailing or email address, vouchers will be sent by September 11, 2019 and will be effective immediately. For those individuals who timely submit a request for a voucher, vouchers will be sent by the Settlement Administrator within 65 days of the Court granting Final Approval and will become effective upon receipt.
Yes. The Court has appointed lawyers to represent you and other Class Members. These lawyers are called “Class Counsel.” Bruce Steckler and Stuart Cochran at Steckler Gresham Cochran, PLLC and Matthew H. Armstrong at Armstrong Law Firm, LLC, and David Nelson at Nelson & Nelson, Attorneys at Law, P.C., are Class Counsel
In addition to the provisions and requirements stated in the Claim Form: