Frequently Asked Questions
If you purchased any variety of Bell + Howell Ultrasonic Pest Repellers, as described on page 1 of the Long Form Notice, you have a right to know about the proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit and your options. If you have received word of this Notice in the mail or by e-mail, you have been identified from available records as a possible purchaser of the Defendants Repellers at issue in the lawsuit. You also may have received this Notice because you requested more information after reading the Settlement Website. If the Court approves it, and if objections and all appeals are resolved in favor of settlement approval, an administrator approved by the Court will oversee the distribution of the Settlement Benefits that the Proposed Settlement allows. You will be informed of the progress of the Proposed Settlement on the settlement website.This Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them. Judge William H. Pauley III of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is overseeing the lawsuit, which is known as Hart v. BHH, LLC, Case No. 15-cv-4804. The persons who sued are called the Plaintiffs, and the companies they sued, BHH, LLC and VAN HAUSER LLC, are called the Defendants.
In this lawsuit, the Plaintiffs claim that the Bell + Howell branded ultrasonic pest repellers distributed by the Defendants do not repel pests as represented to consumers. Defendants deny Plaintiffs’ claims, deny any wrongdoing and assert that the products are effective. The Court has not determined which side is right. Rather, the Parties have agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the uncertainties, expenses and expenditure of resources associated with ongoing litigation.
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this case, Plaintiffs Joanne Hart and Sandra Bueno) sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The named plaintiffs who sued – and all the Class Members like them – are called the Plaintiffs. The companies they sued (in this case, Defendants) are called the Defendants. One court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class – except for those people who choose to exclude themselves from the Class.
You are part of the class if you purchased any variety of Bell + Howell Ultrasonic Pest Repellers in the following states and time periods:April 20, 2011 – June 15, 2016:Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, WyomingApril 20, 2012 – June 15, 2016:Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, TennesseeApril 20, 2013 – June 15, 2016Alabama, Montana
Monetary Relief. The Proposed Settlement allows Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms, along with Proof of Purchase showing the purchase price of the Repellers to receive a full refund of the purchase price for up to six packages of product. Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms with Proof of Purchase that does not reveal the purchase price will receive a payment of $15.00 for each such package up to six packages of product. For Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms without Proof of Purchase, Defendants will pay up to $30.00, i.e., $15.00 each for up to two packages of the Repellers. The Parties have further agreed that Defendants will pay the costs to administer this Proposed Settlement, reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses, and a payment to the named Plaintiffs (see question 13 below). A detailed description of the settlement benefits can also be found in the Settlement Agreement here.
The hearing to consider the fairness of the Settlement is scheduled for September 15, 2020. If the Court approves the Settlement, then eligible Class Members whose claim were approved by the Claims Administrator will receive their payment 30 days after the Settlement has been finally approved and/or after any appeals process is complete. The payment will be made in the form of a check.
If you are a Class Member and want to receive a payment under the Settlement, you must complete and submit a Claim Form no later than July 11, 2020. Claims Forms can be found and submitted on-line, or they can be mailed and postmarked by July 11, 2020. You may have received a link to the Claim Form via e-mail, or in the mail as a postcard notice of the Settlement. You can submit a Claim Form here.
If you do nothing, then you will remain in the Class and not receive any payment from this Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, you will be bound by its terms, you will no longer have the ability to sue with respect to the claims being resolved by the Settlement, and your claims will be released and dismissed.
The Settlement Agreement describes the released claims in more detail, so please read it carefully. If you have any questions, you can contact the lawyers listed in question 10 for free to discuss, or you can talk to another lawyer of your own choosing if you have questions about what this means.
If you exclude yourself from the Settlement – which is sometimes called “opting-out” – you won’t get any money or benefits from the Settlement. However, you may then be able to separately sue or continue to sue Defendants for the legal claims that are the subject of the lawsuit. If you bring your own lawsuit against Defendants after you exclude yourself, you will have to hire your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you will have to prove your claims.
To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must mail a written request for exclusion to the Claims Administrator, stating that you “want to be excluded from the Settlement in Hart v. BHH, LLC, Case No. 1:15-cv-4804 (WHP).” Your written request for exclusion must also include your name, current address, and telephone number. And the request must be signed and dated by you. Your request for exclusion must be mailed and postmarked on or before June 15, 2020 to:
Digital Settlement Group, LLC
8001 Broadway, Suite 200
Merrillville, IN 46410
If you are a Class Member, you can object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must file with the Court a written objection entitled “Objection to Class Settlement in Hart v. BHH, LLC, Case No. 1:15-cv-4804 (WHP)” that identifies all the reasons for your objections and any legal and factual support for those reasons. Your written objection must also include your name, address, telephone number, and email address if available, and it must state information showing that you are a Class Member (i.e. Proof of Purchase or a verification under penalty of perjury as to the date and location of your pest repeller purchase(s)). It must also state if you are represented by legal counsel, and if so, provide contact information for your lawyer, including his or her email address if available. If you or an attorney assisting you with your objection have objected to any class action settlement in the previous 5 years, then you must include a list of those objections identifying each case by its caption or title. If you or your attorney have not objected to any class action settlements in the previous 5 years, then your objection will state that.
If you intend to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing to object to the Settlement, with or without a lawyer (explained below in questions 14, 15 and 16), you must also state your intention to appear in your written objection.
You must file your written objection with the Court and mail a copy to the following persons and places, postmarked no later than June 15, 2020.
Court Class Counsel Defendants' Counsel Judge William H. Pauley III
United States District
Court for the Southern
District of New York
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007
Scott A. Bursor
Bursor & Fisher, P.A.
888 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Leahy, Eisenberg, &
33 West Monroe, Suite 1100
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Objecting means telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself from the Settlement means that you do not want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, then you have no basis to object to the Settlement because the case no longer affects you.
The Court appointed the law firm of Bursor & Fisher, P.A. to represent the Plaintiffs and all Class Members as “Class Counsel.” Class Counsel believe, after conducting an extensive investigation, that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Class Members. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by a different lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.
Class Counsel will ask the Court award them attorneys’ fees and reimbursement for litigation costs and expenses in a total amount that will not exceed $6,500,000. Class Counsel will also request an award of up to $5,000 for each of the Class Representatives. The Court will determine the proper amount of attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses to award Class Counsel and the proper amount of any reward to the Class Representatives.
Any fees, costs, and expenses that are awarded to Class Counsel and the Class Representatives will be paid separately by Defendants and in addition to the monetary benefits to Class Members. The amount awarded to Class Counsel and the Class Representatives will no have effect on Class Members’ recovery whatsoever.
The Court will hold the Final Approval Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on September 15, 2020 in Courtroom 20B at the United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007. The purpose of the hearing will be for the Court to determine whether to approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class; to consider Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses; and to consider the request for the incentive awards to the Class Representatives. At that hearing, the Court will be available to hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the Settlement.
The hearing may be postponed to a different date or time without notice, so please check this website from time to time. If, however, you timely objected to the Settlement and advised the Court that you intend to appear and speak at the Final Approval Hearing, you will receive notice of any change in the time and date of such hearing.
No. You do not need to attend the Final Approval Hearing. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have on behalf of the Class Members. But, you are welcome to attend the Final Approval Hearing at your own expense. If you submit an objection or comment, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you filed and mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay to have another lawyer attend on your behalf, but that is not required.
Yes. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must include in your written objection to the Settlement a statement saying that it is your intent to appear at the Final Approval Hearing in Hart v. BHH, LLC, Case No. 1:15-cv-4804 (WHP). Your written objection and notice of intent to appear must be filed with the Court and postmarked no later than June 15, 2020, and sent to the addresses listed in question 10.