Class Action Settlement Regarding Restaurant Permit Fees

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Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego County

If You Paid Annual Permit Fees to the County of San Diego,
A Settlement Has Been Reached that May Affect Your Rights.

•   A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against the County of San Diego regarding annual permit fees paid by restaurants and limited food preparation facilities.

   The settlement provides a 50% refund of permit fees paid during the period when restaurant operations were restricted for COVID-19.

Please read this Notice carefully.
Your legal rights are affected, whether you act or not.

 

A. Basic Information

1.  What is this Notice about?

A court authorized this notice to inform you about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit and about all your options and associated deadlines. The name of the lawsuit is 640 Tenth LP v. County of San Diego, et al., San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2021-00001129-CU-MC-CTL.

This notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, and your legal rights. You are NOT being sued. The court still must decide whether to approve the settlement. If the settlement is approved, refunds of permit fees and other benefits will be available.

 

 

YOUR RIGHTS AND CHOICES

Response Deadline

Do Nothing

You will automatically be given a 50% refund of annual permit fees you paid. If you owe annual permit fees, you will automatically be given a 50% credit toward the fees you owe.  

N/A

Object

Write to the court about why you do not like the proposed settlement.

10/8/2021

Exclude
Yourself

Ask to opt out of the settlement. If you opt out, you are not entitled to any other settlement benefits, but you keep your right to sue defendants about the permit fees in your own personal lawsuit.

10/8/2021

You can read the court’s order preliminarily approving the settlement by clicking here.

2.  What is the lawsuit about?

The class action lawsuit claims that the County of San Diego and the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality (together “County Defendants”) improperly collected permit fees from restaurants when restaurant operations were limited during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the class action complaint by clicking here. County Defendants deny that they have violated any law or engaged in any wrongdoing. The parties agreed to resolve the case before these issues were decided by the court.

The defendants involved in this settlement are the County of San Diego and County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality. The third defendant named in the lawsuit, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, is not a party to this settlement and did not collect the permit fees covered by this settlement.

3.  Are you a class member?

The class includes all restaurants and limited food preparation facilities in the County of San Diego that paid or were required to pay annual permit fees to the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality from March 16, 2020 through June 15, 2021.

4.  Why is this a class action?

In a class action, a person or entity called the “class representative” sues on behalf of others who have similar claims. Here, all of the restaurants who paid or were required to pay the annual permit fees are the “Class” or “Class Members.” If the class settlement is approved by the court, the settlement resolves the case for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.

5.  Why is there a settlement?

The Class Representative and the County Defendants agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost and risk of further litigation and so that the Class Members may more quickly receive a refund of permit fees. The Class Representative and Class Counsel believe that the settlement is in the best interests of all Class Members.

B. The Settlement benefits—What You Get
and How to Get It

6.  What does the settlement provide?

If you are a Class Member, the settlement provides a 50% refund of annual permit fees paid from March 16, 2020 through June 15, 2021. If you paid two annual payments during this time, the refund will be provided only for the most recent annual permit fees paid.

If you are a Class Member and have not yet paid the annual permit fees due during the period from March 16, 2020 through June 15, 2021, the settlement provides a 50% reduction in the annual permit fees you owe. If you were required to pay two annual payments during this time, the reduction will be applied to the most recent annual fees owed.

The 50% refund or credits will automatically be paid or provided to Class Members within six months of the Final Effective Date. The Final Effective Date will not be sooner than December 28, 2021, and could be later. Check the website for updates.

As part of the settlement, San Diego County will also waive late fees for untimely payment of permit fees that were due from March 16, 2020 through June 15, 2021, so long as the fees are paid within 12 months of the original due date or by December 31, 2021, whichever is sooner.

7.  What am I giving up in exchange for the settlement benefits?

If the settlement becomes final, Class Members who do not exclude themselves from the Class will release County Defendants from liability and will not be able to sue the County Defendants about the issues in the lawsuit. The Settlement Agreement at Paragraph 4.2 describes the released claims in necessary legal terminology, so read it carefully. The Settlement Agreement is available by clicking here. You can talk to one of the lawyers listed in Question 13 below for free or you can, of course, talk to your own lawyer at your own expense if you have questions about the released claims.

C. Excluding Yourself from the Settlement

If you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue County Defendants over the legal issues in the lawsuit, then you must take steps to exclude yourself from this settlement. This is also known as “opting out” of the Class.

8.  If I exclude myself, can I get anything from this settlement?

If you opt out, you do not get settlement benefits. But, if you exclude yourself, the settlement will not prevent you from suing, continuing to sue or remaining or becoming part of a different lawsuit against County Defendants in the future about the issues in the lawsuit. If you exclude yourself, you will not be bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit.

9.  If I do not exclude myself, can I sue later?

Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue County Defendants for the claims resolved by this settlement. If the settlement is finally approved, you will be permanently barred from initiating or continuing any lawsuit or other proceeding against County Defendants about the issues in the lawsuit.

10.  How do I get out of the settlement?

To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must mail a written, signed request for exclusion postmarked or received no later than October 8, 2021. The request must be signed by a person authorized to act on behalf of the restaurant that wants to be excluded. Please include the case name in the exclusion request: 640 Tenth LP v. County of San Diego and be sure to include the name and address of the restaurant to be excluded.

Mail the request for exclusion to:

        Joshua M. Heinlein

        Office of County Counsel, County of San Diego

        1600 Pacific Highway, Room 355

        San Diego, California 92101-2469

D. Objecting to the Settlement

You can tell the court if you do not agree with the settlement or some part of it.

11.  How do I tell the court if I do not like the settlement?

If you are a Class Member, and you do not exclude yourself from the Class, you can object to the settlement if you do not like some part of it or all of it.

To object, you must send a written objection signed by a person authorized to act on the restaurant’s behalf.

The objection must include: (a) the name of the lawsuit, 640 Tenth LP v. County of San Diego, et al., Case No. 37-202100001129-CU-MC-CTL; (b) the objector’s full name, telephone number, and address, and the identity (name, title, and telephone number) of the person signing the objection; (c) include the word “Objection” at the top of the document; (d) if represented by counsel, the full name, telephone number, and address of all counsel and whether counsel will appear at the fairness hearing; and (e) all of the reasons for the objection and supporting documents, if any.

                   Objections must be mailed to three places:

                            Clerk of Court

                            Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego

                            330 West Broadway

                            San Diego, CA 92101

 

                            Timothy G. Blood

                            Blood Hurst & O’Reardon, LLP

                            501 West Broadway, Suite 1490

                            San Diego, CA 92101

 

                            Joshua M. Heinlein

                            Office of County Counsel, County of San Diego

                            1600 Pacific Highway, Room 355

                            San Diego, California 92101-2469

 

Objections must be filed with the court and received by the attorneys no later than October 8, 2021.

12.  What is the difference between objecting and excluding?

Excluding yourself is telling the court that you do not want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the settlement no longer affects you. Objecting is telling the court that you do not like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class.

If you are a Class Member and you do nothing, you will remain a Class Member and all the court’s orders will apply to you, you will be eligible for the 50% refund and other settlement benefits and in exchange for the benefits you will release County Defendants from further liability regarding the issues in the lawsuit.

E. The Lawyers Representing You

13.  Do I have a lawyer in the case?

The court has appointed lawyers to represent the Class Members. These lawyers are called “Class Counsel”: Brian Kabateck of Kabateck LLP and Timothy G. Blood of Blood Hurst and O’Reardon, LLP are Class Counsel. If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense. Class Counsel’s information is as follows:

Timothy G. Blood

Blood Hurst & O’Reardon, LLP

501 West Broadway, Suite 1490

San Diego, CA 92101

Tel: (619) 338-1100

Web: www.bholaw.com

Brian Kabateck

Kabateck LLP

633 W. Fifth Street, Suite 3200

Los Angeles, CA 90071

Tel: (213) 217-5000

Web: www.kbklawyers.com

 

14.  How will Class Counsel be paid?

Class Counsel will ask the court for an award of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of litigation expenses in the total amount of $446,435.75 (which is 10% of the permit fee refunds obtained for the Class). County Defendants will not oppose the request for attorneys’ fees and expenses in this amount.

Class Counsel will also ask the court to award the Class Representative a service award in the amount of $500 for the time and effort it spent representing Class Members. County Defendants will not oppose the request for a service award in this amount.

The court must approve the request for attorneys’ fees and expenses and the request for the service award. The amounts awarded will be paid by the County Defendants in addition to all other settlement benefits. Under no circumstances will the payment of attorneys’ fees and expenses and the Class Representative service award reduce your settlement benefits.

F. The Fairness Hearing

The court will hold a hearing to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement. If you have filed an objection on time and attend the hearing, you may ask to speak (provided you have previously filed a timely notice of intention to appear), but you do not have to attend or speak.

15.  When and where will the court decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement?

The court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 9:00 a.m. on October 29, 2021, in Department C-73 of the Superior Court for the State of California, County of San Diego, located at 330 West Broadway, San Diego, California. At this hearing, the court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the court will consider them. After the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement, and, if so, how much to pay the lawyers representing Class Members. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

16.  Do I have to come to the hearing?

No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the court may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you do not have to come to court to talk about it – but you can if you provide advance notice of your intention to appear (see Question 17). As long as you filed and served a written objection with all of the required information on time, the court will consider it. You may also pay another lawyer to attend, but it is not required.

17.  May I speak at the hearing?

You or your attorney may ask the court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear in 640 Tenth LP v. County of San Diego, et al., Case No. 37-2021-00001129-CU-MC-CTL” to the Clerk of Court so that it is received by the court no later than October 8, 2021. You must include the name, address, and telephone number of the Class Member and the person authorized to act on the restaurant’s behalf, and your signature. You must also send a copy of your Notice of Intention to Appear to Class Counsel and County Defendants’ counsel at:

Joshua M. Heinlein

Office Of County Counsel, County Of San Diego

1600 Pacific Highway, Room 355

San Diego, California 92101-2469

 

Class Counsel

Timothy G. Blood

Blood Hurst & O’Reardon, LLP

501 West Broad, Suite 1490

San Diego, CA 92101

G. Getting More Information

18.  How do I get more information?

This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement by clicking here and the Preliminary Approval Order by clicking hereYou can read the class action complaint by clicking here. You can also look at the documents filed in the lawsuit at the court at the address provided above in response to Question 11.

19. When will the settlement be final?

The settlement will not be final unless and until the court grants final approval of the settlement at or after the Fairness Hearing and after any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement. Please be patient and check the website identified in this notice for updates.