Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is this lawsuit about?
  2. Why is there a settlement?
  3. What does the settlement provide?
  4. Who is a member of the class?
  5. What do I need to do if I want to be excluded and what is the effect of excluding myself?
  6. What if I already received a refund check for interest from the Exchange?
  7. If I stay in the Class, will I have to pay any legal fees or costs?
  8. How do I tell the Court that I don't like the settlement?
  9. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
  10. How do I get more information about this lawsuit?

1. What is this lawsuit about?

This lawsuit is brought on behalf of a Class of people who Plaintiffs claim paid excessive interest to the Exchange on delinquent debts arising from merchandise purchases. The lawsuit seeks a refund of the excess interest payments to the Class Members.

2. Why is there a settlement?

The court has not decided in favor of either Plaintiffs or the United States. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. The Exchange has agreed to make payment for a reasonable estimate of the interest overcharges, plus an additional amount to settle related claims. The Class Representatives and their attorneys think this Settlement is best for everyone who is affected.

3. What does the settlement provide?

The proposed settlement provides that the Exchange will pay approximately $2.77 million into a Class Fund. If you are a Class member, you will receive the amount of your Interest Overcharge, less court-approved attorney fees and costs. If your Interest Overcharge is less than $3, you will not receive a settlement payment; instead your settlement proceeds will be donated to charity. Settlement checks will have an expiration date at least one year after the court approves the settlement. If you do not cash your Settlement check before it expires, your settlement proceeds will be donated to the Army and Air Force Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs.

Class Counsel will ask the court for an award from the Class Fund of attorney fees, litigation costs, the costs of administration, and incentive awards for the named Plaintiffs.

4. Who is a member of the class?

The court certified a class of individuals who may have been overcharged interest on their delinquent credit accounts with the Exchange but did not cash refund checks the Exchange mailed them in 2010 and 2012, as of December 15, 2012. (Note: This is a summary of the Class definition as approved by the court. For the exact definition, view the Court Documents page or contact Class Counsel at:

S. Chandler Visher
Law Offices of S. Chandler Visher
44 Montgomery St. #3830
San Francisco, CA 94104

5. What do I need to do if I want to be excluded and what is the effect of excluding myself?

If you choose, you may exclude yourself from the Class. This process is also known as "opting out." To be excluded, you must sign a letter and send it to Class Counsel at:

S. Chandler Visher
Law Offices of S. Chandler Visher
44 Montgomery St. #3830
San Francisco, CA 94104

Your letter must be postmarked no later than 11:59 p.m. on May 19, 2013 and include the following:

Your printed name as written on the Notice you received, the address to which the Notice was sent, and your correct address if the Notice was sent to the wrong address.

A clear statement that you want to be excluded from the settlement in Russell v. United States, No. C-09-03239;

Your signature.

If you exclude yourself from the Class, you will lose the right to any settlement payment. You will also not be able to participate in hearings or object to the terms of any settlement. If you exclude yourself, you will have the right to bring an individual lawsuit, if you bring it within the time allowed by law, or you may contact the Exchange to request a refund of interest you were overcharged.

6. What if I already received a refund check for interest from the Exchange?

You are in this Class because the Exchange previously attempted to mail a merchandise, or deferred payment plan ("DPP"), interest refund to you, but the check was not cashed or was returned as undeliverable. If you have your DPP interest refund check from the Exchange, you may cash your refund check on or before 11:59 p.m. on May 19, 2013 and you will automatically exclude yourself from this Class. If you do this you will have no rights under this settlement. After 11:59 p.m. on May 19, 2013, the Exchange will no longer honor previously-issued DPP interest refund checks presented by Class Members and your only payment will be through this settlement. The settlement payment check will be for a lesser amount than your prior interest refund check. You are not entitled to be paid twice.

7. If I stay in the Class, will I have to pay any legal fees or costs?

If you stay in the Class, the Class Counsel will represent you. You will not be asked to pay any legal fees or costs out of your own pocket. The court may award attorney fees and costs to Class Counsel, but any amounts awarded will be deducted from the settlement proceeds.

Class Counsel intends to request a payment of between $1 million and $1.2 million in attorney fees (including fees from the Expense Fund not used for other purposes), plus litigation expenses of approximately $42,000, and the expense of sending this notice, to be paid from the Class Fund. If you would like to learn the details of the attorney fee request, please refer to the attorney fee petition, which will be posted on the settlement website. Class Counsel have spent more than 1,600 hours prosecuting this lawsuit, including an appeal to the Federal Circuit after the lawsuit was initially dismissed by the district court. The court will determine the amount of fees and expenses. The court invites your input or objection as to the appropriate amount of attorney fees and reasonable expenses.

Class Counsel will also request that the Court create an "Expense Fund" of approximately $197,000 to pay for class administration and incentive awards to the named plaintiffs.

Class Counsel plans to divide the Class Fund of approximately $2.77 million as follows: (1) approximately $1.97 million is the "2010 Settlement Fund"; (2) approximately $308,000 is the "2012 Settlement Fund," and (3) and $500,000 is the "Additional Payment Fund." Class Counsel has determined that the method that the Exchange used to calculate refunds in 2010 tended to overstate the amount of claimed interest overcharges, while the 2012 method did not. As a result, Class Counsel will request that the costs of settlement administration be borne by individuals in the 2010 Settlement Fund.

The incentive payment to class representative Taylor Russell will be $5,000, and to class representative Foster Franks will be $2,000.

8. How do I tell the Court that I don't like the settlement?

If you are a member of the Class, you can object to any part of the Settlement, the Settlement as a whole, and/or Class Counsel's request for fees and expenses. You can give reasons why you think the court should not approve the settlement. The Court will consider your views. To object, you should send a letter saying that you object to the settlement. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, your signature, and state the reasons you object to the settlement. Mail a copy of the objection to the following three different places postmarked no later than 11:59 p.m. on May 19, 2013:

Class Counsel:
S. Chandler Visher
Law Offices of S. Chandler Visher
44 Montgomery St. #3830
San Francisco, CA 94104

Defense Counsel:
Alicia M. Hunt
U.S. Dept. of Justice
P.O. Box 875
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, D.C. 20044-0875

Court:
Clerk of the Court
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102

9. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

The court will hold a Fairness Hearing, June 27, 2013 at 3:00 p.m., at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102 in Courtroom 8, 19th Floor. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check this website for updates on the Fairness Hearing. At this hearing, the court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the court will consider them. The court will also listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing. The court may also consider Class Counsel's request for attorney fees and expenses. After the hearing, the court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take. You are not required to attend this hearing, but may attend at your own expense.

10. How do I get more information about this lawsuit?

This website provides only a summary of the litigation. More details are in the Settlement Agreement which is available for review on the Court Documents page. If you need further information, you can contact the Class Administrator at 1-866-612-5779 or Admin@ExchangeInterestSettlement.com. Alternatively, you may contact Class Counsel: S. Chandler Visher, Attorney, Law Offices of S. Chandler Visher, 44 Montgomery Street, Suite 3830, San Francisco, California 94104.