Ryan Schulte, et al. v. Liberty Insurance Corporation, et al.
Ohio Depreciation Settlement
Case No. 3:19-cv-00026

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • A Court authorized the notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of this class action, including the right to claim money, and about your options regarding this settlement before the Court decides whether to give “Final Approval” to the settlement. The Court has approved the parties’ Settlement Agreement, and if any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement, then payments will be made to those who qualify and timely submit a valid claim. The notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who may be eligible for them, and how to get them.

    The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio is overseeing this class action. The case is called Schulte, et al. v. Liberty Insurance Corporation et al., Case No. 3:19-cv-00026. The people who sued are called the “Plaintiffs,” and the companies they sued are called the “Defendants.”

  • The settlement includes Liberty Insurance Corporation, Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana, LM Insurance Corporation, and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company (collectively, “the Insurance Companies”).

  • The lawsuit claims that the Insurance Companies improperly deducted depreciation attributable to costs of labor and other nonmaterial items when adjusting some homeowners’ insurance claims in Ohio. The Insurance Companies have maintained that they paid claims when reasonable and appropriate to do so and has denied all allegations that it acted wrongfully or unlawfully.

  • In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in these cases Ryan Schulte, Andrew Carter, Anthony Turco, Laura Ralph, and James Ralph) sued on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are a “Class” or “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.

  • The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or the Insurance Companies, and has not found that the Insurance Companies did anything wrong. Instead, both sides agreed to settle. That way, the parties avoid the cost of a trial and potentially an appeal, and the people who qualify will get compensation. The Class Representatives and their attorneys think the settlement is best for all Class Members. The settlement does not mean that the Insurance Companies did anything wrong, no trial has occurred, and no merits determinations have been made.

  • To see if you are eligible for benefits from this settlement, you first have to determine if you are a Class Member.

  • If you received the Notice, then you have been identified as someone who is likely to be a member of the Class. The Class includes: (a) All policyholders under any homeowners residential property insurance policy issued by Liberty Insurance Corporation, Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana, LM Insurance Corporation, and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, except for those excluded (see FAQ 13), who made a structural damage claim for property located in the State of Ohio during the applicable Class periods, which was a Covered Loss; and (b) that resulted in an actual cash value payment during the class period from which Nonmaterial Depreciation was withheld, or that would have resulted in an actual cash value payment but for the withholding of Nonmaterial Depreciation causing the loss to drop below the applicable deductible.

    A Structural Loss means physical damage to a home, building, manufactured home, condo, rental dwelling, or other structure in Ohio while covered by a homeowners residential, manufactured home, condo, dwelling or rental property insurance policy issued by the companies under (a) and (b) above.

    A Covered Loss means a first party insurance claim for Structural Loss that (a) occurred during the Class Periods, and (b) the Insurance Companies or a court of competent jurisdiction determined to be covered under a Ohio insurance policy issued by the companies under (a) and (b) above and resulted in an ACV Payment by the Insurance Companies, or would have resulted in an ACV Payment but for the deduction of Nonmaterial Depreciation. Nonmaterial Depreciation means depreciation of labor costs, overhead and profit, or other non- labor items, and not of materials or sales tax, and that is subtracted from replacement cost value in determining an actual cash value payment. Nonmaterial Depreciation includes application of “depreciate removal”, “depreciate nonmaterial”, and “depreciate O&P” settings within Xactimate estimating software.

    The Class Periods mean the following time periods:

    For Ohio policyholders of Liberty Insurance Corporation, Structural Loss claims with dates of loss on or after January 28, 2018.

    For Ohio policyholders of Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana, LM Insurance Corporation, and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance, Structural Loss claims with dates of loss on or after January 3, 2019.

  • Excluded from the Class are: (a) policyholders whose claims arose under policy forms, endorsements, or riders expressly permitting deduction of Nonmaterial Depreciation within the text of the policy form, endorsement or rider, i.e., by express use of the words “depreciation” and “labor”; (b) policyholders who received one or more actual cash value payments that exhausted the applicable limits of insurance; (c) policyholders whose claims were denied or abandoned without actual cash value payments; (d) Defendants and their officers and directors; (e) members of the judiciary and their staff to whom this action is assigned and their immediate families; and (f) Class Counsel and their immediate families (collectively, “Exclusions”).

  • If you are not sure whether you are included in the Class, you may call the toll free number 1-888-906-0586 or email info@ohiodepreciationsettlement.com with questions.

  • Class Members who complete and sign a claim form and timely mail it to the proper address, or submit the claim form by uploading it on the settlement website, may be eligible for a payment. Under the settlement, the Insurance Companies have agreed to pay Class Members who timely submit valid claims determined as follows: (a) for Class Members to whom all Nonmaterial Depreciation has not been paid, 100% of the estimated Nonmaterial Depreciation that was withheld and not later paid, plus 5% interest on that amount from the last actual cash value payment to the date of Preliminary Approval of the settlement; (b) for Class Members to whom all Nonmaterial Depreciation that was withheld and later paid, 5% interest on the estimated Nonmaterial Depreciation that was initially withheld, from the date of the last actual cash value payment from which Nonmaterial Depreciation was withheld to the date all Nonmaterial Depreciation was paid.

    You MUST submit a claim form in order to determine whether you are eligible for and the amount of your settlement payment. If you do not, you WILL NOT receive a settlement payment. For additional details on the payment terms, please see the Settlement Agreement on the Important Documents page, or call toll free 1-888-906-0586.

  • To find out whether you are eligible for a payment, you must complete and sign a claim form truthfully, accurately, and completely, to the best of your ability. You must mail the completed claim form to the following address, postmarked no later than Friday, July 2, 2021:

    Ohio Depreciation Settlement
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    PO Box 91096
    Seattle, WA 98111

    You can also upload a signed, scanned copy of a completed claim form before midnight Central Daylight Time on Friday, July 2, 2021 on the Claim Form page. A copy of the claim form was mailed with the Notice. You may obtain an additional claim form by calling the Settlement Administrator at 1-888-906-0586 or downloading one from the Important Documents page.

    If you sign a claim form as the representative of a deceased or incapacitated Class Member, you must also submit written proof that you are the legally authorized representative. If you are a contractor to whom an insurance claim was properly assigned by a policyholder, you must submit written proof of the assignment with the filed claim form.

  • The Court has granted Final Approval of the settlement, and if any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement, then payments will be mailed to eligible Class Members after the claims administration process is completed. This process can take time, so please be patient.

  • Unless you excluded yourself, you are staying in the Class, and that means you can’t individually sue the Insurance Companies and the Released Persons over the claims settled in this case relating to deduction of Nonmaterial Depreciation from payments for Covered Losses. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you.

    If you submit a Claim Form, or if you do nothing and stay in the Class, you will agree to release all Released Claims against all Released Persons. “Released Claims” and “Released Persons” are defined in the Settlement Agreement, which you can request by calling 1-888-906-0586 or view on the Important Documents page.

  • If you don’t want a payment from this settlement, and/or if you want to keep the right to individually sue about the issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out of the settlement. This is called excluding yourself from—or “opting out” of—the Class.

  • To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must have mailed a letter saying that you want to be excluded to the Settlement Administrator. The deadline to exclude yourself was April 16, 2021 and has passed.

  • No. Unless you excluded yourself, you gave up any right to sue the Insurance Companies for the claims that this settlement resolves. You must have excluded yourself from the Class to individually sue the Insurance Companies over the claims resolved by this settlement. The exclusion deadline was April 16, 2021 and has passed.

  • No. If you excluded yourself from the settlement, you cannot submit a Claim Form to ask for a payment.

  • The Court appointed the following law firms to represent you and other Class Members as Class Counsel:

    Erik D. Peterson (pro hac vice)
    MEHR, FAIRBANKS & PETERSON TRIAL LAWYERS, PLLC
    201 West Short Street, Suite 800
    Lexington, KY 40507

    T: 859.225.3731
    edp@austinmehr.com
     

    Stephen G. Whetstone (0088666)
    WHETSTONE LEGAL, LLC
    PO Box 62, N. Main Street, Unit 2
    Thornville, Ohio 43706

    T: 740.785.7730
    steve@whetstonelegal.com
     

    You do not have to pay Class Counsel. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, and potentially have that lawyer appear in court for you in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • Class Counsel asked the Court for $3,414,617.86 for attorneys’ fees and up to $16,641.93 for reimbursement of their expenses, and for the Court to award the Class Representatives $7,500 each for their efforts in prosecuting this case (called a service award). The Insurance Companies agreed not to oppose the request for fees, expenses, and service awards up to these amounts. The Court awarded these amounts. The Insurance Companies will pay these fees, expenses, and service awards in addition to amounts due to Class Members. These payments will not reduce the amount distributed to Class Members. The Insurance Companies will also separately pay the costs to administer the settlement.

  • You can tell the Court if you don’t agree with the settlement or some part of it.

  • If you didn't want the Court to approve the settlement you must have filed a written objection with the Court and sent a copy to the Settlement Administrator by April 16, 2021. The deadline to object to the Settlement has passed.

  • 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 or the settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you. If you object, and the Court approves the settlement anyway, you will still be legally bound by the result.

  • The Court held a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement. You may have attended and asked to speak, but you did not have to.

  • The Court held a Final Approval Hearing at 1:30 p.m., on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at the United States Courthouse, 200 W. Second Street, Dayton, Ohio. At this hearing, the Court considered whether the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there were objections, the Court considered them at that time. The Court may have listened to people who asked to speak about their objection. The Court also decided how much to award Class Counsel for fees and expenses for representing the Class and how much to award the Class Representatives as service awards. At the hearing, the Court decided to approve the settlement.

  • You were not required to attend, and Class Counsel answered any questions that the Court had.

  • If you submitted a proper written objection to the settlement, you or your lawyer acting on your behalf may have spoken at the Final Approval Hearing. You could not have spoken at the Hearing if you excluded yourself.

  • If you do nothing, you’ll get no payment from this settlement. But, unless you excluded yourself from the settlement, you won’t be able to individually sue for the claims resolved in this case.

  • This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. If you have questions or if you want to request a copy of the Settlement Agreement, which provides more information, call 1-888-906-0586 or download it on the Important Documents page.

    PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR WRITE THE COURT, THE JUDGE OR HIS STAFF, OR THE INSURANCE COMPANIES OR ITS COUNSEL FOR INFORMATION OR ADVICE ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail

Ohio Depreciation Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91096
Seattle, WA 98111