CLAIM NUMBER: 10088511101
If you subscribed to a HughesNet
Satellite Internet Service anytime between
May 15, 2005 and March 2, 2012
you could get a $5 or $40 payment
from a class action settlement.
A federal court authorized the Notice below. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.
Please see below to read the full detailed notice. You may get a copy of the detailed notice by clicking here.
A Court authorized this notice because you have a right to know about the proposed settlement of this class action lawsuit, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. This notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, and how to get them.
Judge Samuel Conti of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is overseeing this class action. The case is known as Walter v. Hughes Communications, Inc., Case No. 09cv02136.
The lawsuit alleges that in connection with Hughes’ satellite-based internet access service called HughesNet (formerly called DirecPC and DirecWay), (i) Hughes’ advertised download, upload and other internet speeds and Hughes’ disclosures regarding its Fair Access Policy were misleading, and (ii) the fees charged to subscribers when they cancelled their service before the end of their contract (“early termination fees”) violated the law.
Hughes denies Plaintiffs’ allegations and asserts that, at all times, its actions and business practices have been lawful and appropriate. The Court has not ruled as to who wins and who loses. Both sides, however, have agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost and risk of a trial. The Class Representatives and their attorneys think the settlement is best for all Class Members.
Who is Included in the Settlement
If you received a notice about this settlement in the mail, Hughes’ records show that you are a Class Member. Generally, the Class includes everyone in the United States who, at anytime from May 15, 2005 to March 2, 2012, subscribed to any Hughes’ Consumer Service Plans.
The service plans include: Hughes Homes, Pro, Pro Plus, Small Office, Business Internet, Elite, ElitePlus, ElitePremium, Basic, Power 150 and Power 200.
Visit www.SatelliteInternetSettlement.com, call 1-888-232-3395 or write to Satellite Internet Settlement Administrator, PO Box 43067, Providence, RI 02940-5143 for more information.
The Settlement Benefits—What You Get
Hughes will make cash payments to eligible Class Members who submit valid claim forms. It will also change the way it advertises its internet speeds, and change its business practices related to its Fair Access Policy Token (“Restore Token”) Program and the amount of money it charges for early termination fees.
You can get $40 if you paid an early termination fee before December 6, 2010; or
You can get $5 if you were no longer a Hughes Consumer Plan subscriber as of March 2, 2012 and did not pay an early termination fee before December 6, 2010.
If you are a current Hughes subscriber, you are not eligible for a cash payment, but you will receive the non-cash benefits described below. You do not need to submit a Claim Form to receive non-cash benefits.
Hughes has agreed not to charge an ETF for any Hughes Consumer Service Plan in excess of the amounts shown below:
The maximum ETF amounts set forth above will be in effect for at least 18 months after the settlement becomes final. After that 18 month period expires, Hughes has agreed that for an additional 18 months, it will not charge its customers a Flat-Rate ETF (one that remains constant through the duration of the contract regardless of the amount of time remaining on a customer’s contract at termination).
Hughes reserves the right to change at any time: (a) any aspect of the ETF not specifically addressed above, (b) any disclosure regarding the ETF, including providing explicitly that the ETF is an alternative means of customer contractual performance, and (c) the term length of subscriber agreements offered, which may be less or greater than twenty four months.
Hughes currently voluntarily offers a Restore Token Program¹. As part of the settlement, Hughes will be required to offer a Restore Token Program. Within 60 days of the date the settlement becomes final, Hughes will distribute to all current Hughes Consumer Service Plan subscribers a minimum of one Restore Token per calendar month for no charge for a minimum of 18 months. If Hughes modifies its Fair Access Policy during this period, Restore Tokens distributed pursuant to the Settlement Agreement will provide download capacity at least substantially equivalent to the download capacity of Restore Tokens before any such modification.
For at least 60 months after the settlement becomes final, Hughes will, when advertising upload or download speeds measured in MBPS or KBPS for Hughes Consumer Service Plans, on its website or in print, include a disclosure substantially similar to the following:
When you connect to the Internet using HughesNet, the upload and download speeds you experience will vary based on a variety of factors including the configuration of your computer, the number of concurrent users, network or Internet congestion, the speed of the Websites you are accessing, and other factors. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of service are not guaranteed. Actual upload and download speeds may be lower than maximum advertised speeds, particularly during peak periods.
Hughes will continue to make these disclosures for as long as Hughes advertises speeds in KBPS or MBPS in connection with any of the Hughes Consumer Service Plans.
How You Get a Payment – Submitting a Claim Form
To qualify for a payment, you must send in a claim form. You can submit or download a claim form at the website, www.SatelliteInternetSettlement.com, or by calling 1-888-232-3395. Read the instructions carefully, fill out the form, sign it, and mail it so it is postmarked no later than September 28, 2012.
If you are not entitled to a cash payment, you do not need to file a claim form.
The Court will hold a hearing on November 16, 2012, to decide whether to approve the settlement. If Judge Conti approves the settlement, there may be appeals. It is always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time. Please be patient.
Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Class. If the settlement is approved and becomes final, all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. That means you won’t be able to sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Hughes for the legal issues in this case. The specific rights you are giving up are called Released Claims. The Released Claims are defined as follows:
Effective as of the Final Order Date, each and all of the Settlement Class Members (except any such person who has filed a proper and timely request for exclusion) shall release and forever discharge, and shall be forever barred from asserting, instituting or maintaining against any or all of the Released Persons, any and all claims, demands, actions, causes of action, lawsuits, arbitrations, damages or liabilities of any nature whatsoever, whether legal, equitable or otherwise, arising or accruing at any time on or before the Final Order Date, based on or arising from the ETFs, the HughesNet Fair Access Policy, the HughesNet download, upload or other internet speeds or any advertising or representations by Hughes relating to ETFs, the Fair Access Policy or the HughesNet download, upload or other internet speeds (collectively, the “Claims”). With respect to the Claims released pursuant to this paragraph, each Settlement Class Member shall be deemed to have waived and relinquished, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the provisions, rights and benefits of California Civil Code section 1542 (and equivalent, comparable or analogous provisions of the laws of the United States of America or any state or territory thereof, or of the common law or civil law). Section 1542 provides that:
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.
The Released Claims are described in greater detail in Section IV of the Settlement Agreement which is available at www.SatelliteInternetSettlement.com.
Excluding Yourself from the settlement
If you don’t want a payment from this settlement, but you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue Hughes about the legal claims in this case, then you must take steps to get out of the settlement. This is called excluding yourself or is sometimes called opting out of the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself and later sue Hughes, Hughes may ask the Court to order your case to be sent to arbitration.
To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from the class in Walter v. Hughes Communications, Inc., No. 09cv02136. Be sure to include your name, address, signature and account number. You must mail your exclusion request so that it is postmarked bySeptember 28, 2012 to:
Satellite Internet Settlement Administrator
PO Box 43067
Providence, RI 02940-5143
No. If you exclude yourself, do not send in a claim form to ask for money. By excluding yourself, you are telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class in this settlement. You can only get a payment if you stay in Class and submit a claim form.
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you are giving up the right to sue Hughes for the claims that this settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Class to start or continue with your own lawsuit or be part of any other lawsuit.
The Lawyers Representing You
Yes. The Court appointed the law firms of Audet & Partners, LLP, Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser, LLP, and Pogust, Braslow & Millrood, LLC to represent you and other Class Members. Together, these lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses of up to $630,000. They will also ask that a payment of up to $5,000 be paid to each of the three Class Representatives. If approved, these fees will be paid by Hughes. The Court may award less than these amounts. These amounts will not reduce the payments made to Class Members. Hughes has agreed not to oppose these fees and expenses.
Objecting to the Settlement
You can tell the Court if you don’t agree with the settlement or any part of it.
If you’re a Class Member, you can object to the settlement.
To object to the settlement, your objection must be in writing and must be mailed to: Satellite Internet Settlement Administrator, PO Box 43067, Providence, RI 02940-5143. Your objection must be postmarkedno later than July 16, 2012.
Be sure to include your name, address, signature, Hughes account number and the reasons why you object to the settlement.
You may also request to intervene in the lawsuit. If you want to intervene in this lawsuit, your request to intervene must be in writing and must be mailed to:
Any request for intervention must be accompanied by all arguments and documents to support that request.
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you cannot object because the settlement no longer affects you.
The Court’s Fairness Hearing
The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement. You may attend and you may ask to speak, but you don’t have to.
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 16, 2012, at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Courtroom 1 – 17th Floor, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Conti will listen to people in the lawsuit who asked to speak at the hearing (see Question 24). The Court may also decide how much to pay Class Counsel. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions Judge Conti may have. But, you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.
Yes. You 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 Walter v. Hughes Communications, Inc.” Be sure to include your name, address, signature and Hughes account number, and the reasons, if any, for requesting the opportunity to appear and be heard at the Fairness Hearing. Your letter must be mailed to: Satellite Internet Settlement Administrator, PO Box 43067, Providence, RI 02940-5143. You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself.
If You Do Nothing
If you do nothing you will not get any money from this settlement. You will also be giving up your right to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Hughes about the legal issues in this case, ever again.
Getting More Information
This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You can call 1-888-232-3395 toll free; write to Satellite Internet Settlement Administrator, PO Box 43067, Providence, RI 02940-5143; or visit the website at www.SatelliteInternetSettlement.com, where you will find answers to common questions about the settlement, the Settlement Agreement, a claim form, plus other information to help you determine whether you are a Class Member and whether you can get a payment from the settlement.
¹Hughes Consumer Service Plans are subject to a Fair Access Policy, whereby each plan is assigned an allowance for the amount of data that may be continuously downloaded within a 24-hour period. Subscribers who exceed their plan’s download allowance normally experience a temporary reduction of speed, though they will still be able to handle casual browsing. A “Restore Token” permits a Hughes subscriber who has exceeded the daily Fair Access Policy download allowance to restore the subscriber’s daily download count to zero and remove any temporary speed reduction otherwise experienced under the Fair Access Policy.