Frequently Asked Questions

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 is there a settlement?
Who is part of the Class and the settlement?
Help me understand who is included.
How do I know if I was damaged by lead?
What if I’m still not sure whether I am included?
What does the HANO settlement provide?
How much money can I get?
What are HCVP housing vouchers?
Who qualifies for a housing voucher?
What if I already use a housing voucher, or live in a household that does?
What if more or less than 200 people qualify for a voucher?
What about how I must use the voucher?
What about the waiting list for HCVP vouchers?
How much is a housing voucher worth?
If I am offered a voucher, can I get cash instead?
What if I lose my eligibility after receiving a housing voucher?
What rights am I giving up?
How can I get benefits?
What will I need to do to prove my claim?
When might I get money and/or a housing voucher?
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 settlement?
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
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?


Who should read this Notice?

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

Why was this Notice sent?

You have rights and options before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. If it does, and any objections and appeals are resolved, the Court will decide how much money you might get or whether you could get one of the vouchers. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, and how to qualify for benefits.    Back to top

What is the lawsuit about?

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, and HANO is the Defendant who is now settling.    Back to top

What is a class action?

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

Who is in charge of this class action?

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.    Back to top

Why is there a settlement?

HANO disputed the claims in the lawsuit. However, the settlement makes additional benefits available to eligible Class Members and avoids the costs, risks and delays of a trial. It does not mean that HANO did anything wrong to the victims. Rather, the settlement was reached between the parties without HANO admitting fault. The Class Representatives and their lawyers think the HANO settlement is best for the Class.    Back to top

Who is part of the Class and the settlement?

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

Help me understand who is included.

This chart helps you understand whether you are included or not.    Back to top

How do I know if I was damaged by lead?

You might have been exposed to lead, for example, as paint chips or dust inside HANO 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.    Back to top

What if I'm still not sure I'm included?

Call toll-free 1-888-768-2043, see 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

What does the HANO settlement provide?

$1,750,000 will help pay valid claims from some 8,000 or possibly more Class Members. This HANO settlement money is in addition to the already proposed roughly $65 million insurance Settlement Fund by the insurance companies as described in the earlier notice. Also, HANO will reserve 200 HCVP housing vouchers to be awarded by the Court to Class Members. Lawyers’ fees, expenses, other costs including for settlement administration, plus the cost to administer the HCVP, will be deducted from the cash portion of the settlement before distributing the rest to Class Members who submit valid claims.    Back to top

How much money can I get?

The Special Master will create a plan, or formula, to help the Court decide how to divide up the settlement. The benefits 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 settlement is approved.

HANO is also settling, for a total of $250,000, the claims of 15 children who are part of lead lawsuits separate from the class action. After deducting up to 45% for lawyers’ fees and expenses, those children will share the rest of the $250,000 based on the Special Master’s formula, with any leftover money divided among Class Members. No money from any Class settlement will be given to the children in these separate lawsuits.    Back to top

What are HCVP housing vouchers?

These Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) vouchers are the “Section 8” vouchers provided to HANO by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as specified by 42 U.S.C. section 1437f(0) and HUD regulations 24 C.F.R. part 982, and HANO’s Housing Choice Voucher Program Administrative Plan. You can read facts about HCVP vouchers at www.HanoLeadSettlements.com.    Back to top

Who qualifies for a housing voucher?

First you must meet HUD and HANO eligibility requirements for Section 8 housing vouchers, including income limits, family size and status, citizenship and criminal background. You can learn about HANO’s detailed voucher eligibility rules in plain language at www.HanoLeadSettlements.com. Then, under the settlement, you must have an urgent, emergency and immediate need for housing because of exposure to lead at HANO. Among those who have this need, the settlement asks the Court to choose up to 200 qualified people to receive a HCVP voucher.    Back to top

What if I already use a housing voucher, or live in a household that does?

You will not be considered for another voucher under the settlement if you are in a household that already uses a HCVP housing voucher.    Back to top

What if more or less than 200 people qualify for a voucher?

If 200 people are eligible and selected, then 200 people will receive HCVP vouchers through the settlement. If more than 200 people are eligible, the Court will choose the Class Members that it feels most deserve to get one. If there are less than 200 qualified Class Members selected to receive a voucher, any leftover vouchers may be given to the non-Class Members mentioned in Question 12.    Back to top

What about how I must use the voucher?

If you receive a housing voucher in the settlement, you must use the voucher for New Orleans housing. The settlement encourages home ownership and asks the Court to provide the vouchers to people buying a home. However, HCVP vouchers can be used for rental as well as purchase.    Back to top

What about the waiting list for HCVP vouchers?

Whether or not you are on the current HANO HCVP waiting list of about 22,000 people, if you are selected to get a housing voucher in the settlement, you will be able to use it as soon as HANO confirms your eligibility, you find suitable housing, and the housing is inspected and approved by HANO. Without the settlement, the estimated wait for a HCVP voucher from HANO could be 10 years.    Back to top

How much is a housing voucher worth?

The value depends on each family (family size, income, rent charged, utility bills, etc.), and depends on the housing market and HUD funding in the future. However, based on this year’s average housing assistance payment by HANO of $793 per month, each housing voucher might have a value of $142,740 over a 15 year period. HCVP vouchers used toward purchasing a home are limited to fifteen years but vouchers used for rental can extend for more than fifteen years if the person is still eligible.    Back to top

If I am offered a voucher, can I get cash instead?

A voucher cannot be exchanged for cash. The Court might award extra cash to those selected to receive a voucher (or who would have been selected) but who can’t use one or don’t want one. It is highly unlikely that each such person would get cash equal to the value of a voucher.    Back to top

What if I lose my eligibility after receiving a housing voucher?

If you receive a voucher and later lose your HCVP eligibility, it will not be replaced with cash.    Back to top

What rights am I giving up?

If the settlement is 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 agreement documents available at www.HanoLeadSettlements.com.    Back to top

How can I get benefits?

If you received this Notice in the mail, you will receive another Notice with the Special Master’s plan to divide up the money and HCVP vouchers, together with a Claim Form, when the claims process begins. If you are viewing this Notice on the website and you think you may qualify, call the phone number below.    Back to top

What will I need to prove my claim?

If the Court approves the settlement, the Claim Form will tell you how to prove your claim and ask for a payment and/or a voucher. You will need evidence (See Questions 7 and 12), so you should start now to get it if you don’t already have it.    Back to top

When might I get money or a housing voucher?

After the settlement is approved, and any appeals are resolved, Claim Forms will be issued. After the claims process, benefits will be provided to those who qualify.    Back to top

Do I have a lawyer in this case?

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

What about lawyers’ fees, expenses, and other costs?

Class Counsel will ask for a total of up to 45% of the cash portion of the settlement for their fees and expenses. The Court might award less, but not more. They will not seek any fees based on the value of the HCVP vouchers. Other costs required by the settlement, 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. 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

How do I tell the Court if I don't like the settlement?

If you object, you must send a letter stating that you object in Billieson v. City of New Orleans, et al, No. 94-19231. The letter must include: (a) the Class Member’s full name, including any names used in the past, such as maiden name or name on an original birth certificate; (b) the name of the parents of the Class Member; (c) the Class Member’s Social Security Number; (d) the date and location of exposure to lead at HANO; (e) evidence of Class Membership (See Question 7 and 8); (f) the current address, home, work and cell phone number, email address and fax number for the Class Member and anyone objecting on his/her behalf; (g) the reasons why you object to the settlement; and (h) a list of witnesses and evidence supporting your objection.

You must mail your objection to the three addresses listed below no later than December 7, 2011:

Courthouse
Clerk of the Court
Civil District Court
421 Loyola Avenue
Room 402
New Orleans, LA 70112

Special Master
J. Robert Ates
Court-Appointed Special Master
13726 River Road
Suite A
Destrehan, LA 70047

Class Counsel
Gary J. Gambel
Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel
701 Poydras Street
One Shell Square, Suite 400
New Orleans, LA 70139    Back to top

When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?

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 settlement is 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 31). After the hearing, Judge Tiemann will decide whether to approve the settlement. If the settlement is approved, the Court will decide how much to pay Class Counsel. We do not know how long these decisions will take.    Back to top

Do I have to come to the hearing?

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 28). You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.    Back to top

May I speak at the hearing?

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 Billieson v. City of New Orleans.” Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and signature. Your letter must be postmarked by December, 7 2011, and be sent to all three addresses in Question 28.    Back to top

What happens if I do nothing at all?

If you do not submit a Claim Form when it becomes available, you will not get money or a voucher from the settlement. If you do not object, you will lose your right to be heard in Court.    Back to top

How do I get more information?

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 www.HanoLeadSettlements.com, where you will find answers to common questions about the settlements, the HANO settlement agreement documents, plus other information to help you see if you are a Class Member and whether you are eligible for a payment or a voucher.    Back to top