Class action settlements affecting children who lived, stayed, or visited at public housing in New Orleans before Feb. 17, 2001.
Who should read this Notice?
Why was this Notice sent?
What is the lawsuit about?
What is a class action?
Who is in charge of this class action?
Why are there settlements in the lawsuit?
Which insurance companies have agreed to settle?
Who is part of the Class and settlements?
Help me understand who is included.
How do I know if I was damaged by lead?
Can I get out of the Class?
What if I’m still not sure whether I am included?
What do the settlements provide?
How much money can I get?
How will the Settlement Fund be created?
What rights am I giving up?
How can I get a payment?
What will I need to prove my claim?
When might I get money?
Do I have a lawyer in this case?
What about lawyers’ fees, expenses, and other costs?
How do I tell the Court if I don’t like the settlements?
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlements?
Do I have to come to the hearing?
May I speak at the hearing?
What happens if I do nothing at all?
How do I get more information?
Victims of the lead poisoning claims covered by this lawsuit, as well as the parents, guardians, and legal representatives of those victims, should read this Notice carefully. The Notice uses “You” and “I” to refer not only to class members (victims) but also to others who can act upon a victim’s legal rights. Back to top
You have rights and options before the Court decides whether to approve each of the settlements. If it does, and any objections and appeals are resolved, the Court will decide how much money you might get. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the settlements, your legal rights, and how to qualify for a payment. Back to top
This lawsuit is about whether lead present in HANO’s public housing developments harmed the people who lived, stayed, or visited there. The lawsuit also said that many children who were exposed to lead developed learning, reading, growth, hearing, physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems, as well as permanent brain damage, and some possibly died as a result. The people who sued are called Plaintiffs. The organizations and companies they sued, HANO, C.J. Brown Property Management, Inc., C.J. Brown Public Housing, Inc., Ventana Property Management, Inc., and Ventana Public Housing Management, Inc., and their insurance companies are called the Defendants. Back to top
In a class action, one or more people sue for all people who have similar claims. The person or people who sue are called the Class Representatives (in this case Sheila Green, Aretha Arnold-Haynes, Joyce Galmon, Barbara Vincent-Robinson, and Detress Lewis). The people included in the class action are called Class Members. One court resolves the issues for all Class Members. Back to top
Judge M. Joseph Tiemann of the Civil District Court in and for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, is in charge of this case: Billieson v. City of New Orleans, et al, No. 94-19231. Attorney J. Robert Ates has been appointed by Judge Tiemann to be the Special Master and oversee the settlement fund. Back to top
The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or Defendants. Instead, the insurance company Defendants have agreed to settle. The settlements make money available to eligible Class Members and avoid the costs, risks and delays of a trial. The Class Representatives and their lawyers think the insurance settlements are best for the Class. Notice of a HANO settlement has not yet been issued. Back to top
National Union Fire Insurance Company; Lexington Insurance Company; United States Fire Insurance Company; Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association; Starr Indemnity & Liability Company (formerly Republic Insurance Company); and Scottsdale Insurance Company have agreed to settle. Back to top
You are a Class Member if, before February 17, 2001, you were damaged by lead present in these HANO public housing developments: Iberville, Florida, Lafitte, B.W. Cooper, St. Bernard, Desire, Guste, Fischer, St. Thomas, or C.J. Peete/Magnolia, and either:
You have filed a lawsuit against HANO and/or C.J. Brown Property Management, Inc., C.J. Brown Public Housing, Inc. and/or Ventana Property Management, Inc., Ventana Public Housing Management, Inc. and/or the City of New Orleans saying that you were hurt from exposure to lead at one of the HANO public housing developments; or
You have or can get medical documents or other evidence showing you were lead poisoned, specifically a document that shows you had an elevated blood lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dl) of whole blood, or higher, when you were six years old or younger and you were born on or after December 12, 1987. Back to top
You might have been exposed to lead, for example, as paint chips or dust inside the housing units and stairwells, or in the soil outside. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that an elevated level of lead is 10 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dl) of whole blood, or higher. You might have been tested one or more times in the past. Register if you aren’t sure. Back to top
No. Class Members were already given an opportunity to get out (exclude themselves) from the Class. If you fit the description in Question 8 you are automatically included, and you cannot start a lawsuit against the defendants for the claims covered by this class action. Back to top
Call toll-free 1-888-768-2043, go to www.HanoLeadSettlements.com or write to Billieson Notice Administrator, c/o Analytics, Inc., P.O. Box 2010, Chanhassen, MN 55317-2010 for more information. Back to top
A $65,520,174.19 Settlement Fund will pay valid claims from among an estimated 10,000 or more Class Members, as well as lawyers’ fees and expenses and other costs. It will also pay for administration of the settlements. See also Question 21 about these fees and costs. Back to top
Based in part on the Registration Forms, the Special Master will begin to create a plan, or formula, to help the Court decide how to divide up the Settlement Fund. The exact amount of money each Class Member might get will be based on how bad your injuries are, and various other factors, including for example, the amount of time you lived, stayed, or visited at HANO housing, your blood lead level, how long your elevated blood lead level lasted, the medical evidence you have or can get, your medical treatments and bills, and the total number of valid Claim Forms received after the settlements are approved. Back to top
The settling insurance companies each negotiated a different Settlement Agreement, which took into account the policy terms and limits. Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association contributes $309,174.19. United States Fire Insurance Company contributes $325,000. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA and Lexington Insurance Company contributes $1,320,000. Starr Indemnity & Liability Company contributes $1,066,000. Scottsdale Insurance Company contributes $57,000,000. The remaining $5,500,000 is from a 2004 settlement with Travelers Insurance Company. Back to top
If the settlements are approved and final, all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. Basically you will give up any and all claims related to lead poisoning at a HANO development regardless of the amount of money you receive (even if that amount is $0). The specific rights which Class Members are giving up are called Released Claims. The Released Claims are described in detail in the Settlement Agreements which are available at www.HanoLeadSettlements.com. Back to top
First, you must send in the Registration Form enclosed with this Notice by October 20, 2011. You may also register at the website or by calling the toll free number. Class Members who register will receive another Notice with the Special Master’s plan to divide up the money, together with a Claim Form, when the claims process begins. Back to topBack to top
After the settlements are approved, and any appeals are resolved, Claim Forms will be issued to Class Members who register. After the claims process, payments will be made to those who qualify. Back to top
Judge Tiemann decided that attorneys Gary J. Gambel of Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel; Roderick Alvendia of Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest, LLC; Gilbert V. Andry, IV of The Andry Law Firm, LLC; Joseph M. Bruno of The Law Offices of Joseph M. Bruno; Walter M. Leger, Jr. of Leger & Shaw; Suzette Peychaud- Bagneris of The Bagneris Law Firm; Peter B. Sloss of Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel; Deborah M. Sulzer of Deborah M. Sulzer, LLC; and Jennifer N. Willis of Willis and Buckley, APC should represent you and other Class Members. Together, these lawyers are called Class Counsel. If you want to be represented by a different lawyer, you may hire one at your own cost. Back to top
Class Counsel will ask for a total of up to 45% of the Settlement Fund for their fees and expenses. They will also ask that up to $15,000 be paid from the Settlement Fund to each of the five named Plaintiffs and five Class Representatives who provided service in the class action. The Court might award less, but not more. Other costs required by the settlements, including the cost to provide thorough notice, as well as to receive, verify and administer the claims that are submitted—however many that is—will also be deducted from the Settlement Fund. Because this case involves personal injuries and medical documentation, these costs will be substantial, but cannot be known until Claim Forms have been received and processed. Back to top
You must mail your objection to the three addresses listed below no later than October 20, 2011:
Clerk of the Court
Civil District Court
421 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70112
J. Robert Ates
Court-Appointed Special Master
13726 River Road
Destrehan, LA 70047
Gary J. Gambel
Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel
701 Poydras Street
One Shell Square, Suite 400
New Orleans, LA 70139 Back to top
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 21, 2011, at Civil District Court, 421 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlements are fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Tiemann will listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing (see Question 25). After the hearing, Judge Tiemann will decide whether to approve the settlements. If the settlements are approved, the Court will decide how much to pay Class Counsel, the named Plaintiffs, and Class Representatives. We do not know how long these decisions will take. Back to top
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court might have. But, you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you are not required to come to Court. As long as you send your written objection on time, the Court will consider it (see Question 22). You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary. Back to top Back to top
If you do not register to receive a Claim Form, and you do not submit a Claim Form when they become available, you will not get any money from these settlements. If you do not like the settlements but you do not object, you will lose your right to be heard in Court. Back to top
You may call 1-888-768-2043 toll free; write to Billieson Notice Administrator, c/o Analytics, Inc., P.O. Box 2010, Chanhassen, MN 55317-2010; or visit the website at www.HanoLeadSettlements.com, where you will find answers to common questions about the settlements, a Registration Form, the Settlement Agreements, plus other information to help you determine whether you are a Class Member and whether you are eligible for a payment.A Registration Form is also enclosed with this Notice. You must fill it out and send it back by October 20, 2011, to be sure you get future settlement notices, and a Claim Form as soon as it is available. This will also help the Special Master quickly develop a plan to fairly divide up the Settlement Fund. Back to top