ERICA SILBETSTEIN V PETSMART, INC.

Case No. 8:19-cv-02800-SCB-AAS in United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division

NOTICE OF PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND HEARING

 

This Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement and Hearing provides important information regarding your right to participate in or to opt out of a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit. Named Plaintiff, Erica Silberstein (“Plaintiff”), filed a lawsuit against Defendant Petsmart, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Petsmart”) in which she alleges that the COBRA Notice she received from or on behalf of Defendant was deficient.  Defendant disputes the allegations and has asserted its Notice complied with all applicable laws.  That case is pending in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division) and the judge has not made any determination about who is right or wrong in the case.  A summary of the claims asserted in the lawsuit and the proposed settlement follows.

  • The notice at issue is referred to as a “COBRA” Notice and the continuation of health insurance coverage after separation of employment is called “COBRA continuation coverage,” after the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. That Act requires an employer to send a COBRA notice to employees within 44 days after the end of a person’s employment.The COBRA notice is designed to provide former employees who were covered under employer sponsored group healthcare plans with information and details regarding their right to continue their healthcare coverage and the terms and conditions of that COBRA continuation coverage. 29 U.S.C. §1166(a) (2), (a)(4), (c).
  • The lawsuit generally alleges Defendant provided Plaintiff and other putative class members with a deficient COBRA Notice. More specifically, Plaintiffs asserted that Defendant’s COBRA Notice did not adequately inform her of how to exercise her rights to elect COBRA coverage.Plaintiff asserted that, in alleged violation of 29 C.F.R. § 2590.606–4(b)(4) et seq. the Notice failed to: (i) include a date certain on which continuation coverage ends; (ii) identify the Plan Administrator; and, finally, (iii) be written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant. As a result of the alleged violations in the Complaint, Plaintiff sought statutory penalties, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated. 
  • Defendant denies that its COBRA Notice was deficient in any manner and denies that it has any liability to Plaintiff whatsoever.Rather, Defendant has asserted that its COBRA Notice complied with any and all relevant laws, including COBRA and ERISA.Furthermore, had the parties proceeded in the litigation, Defendant further denies that the matter would have proceeded on a class action basis.
  • At this point in the case, the presiding judge has not made any determination about who is right or wrong.Rather, instead of proceeding with potentially years of litigation with uncertain outcomes, the parties have agreed to resolve the lawsuit through a Court-supervised settlement to avoid further cost and uncertainty.
  • Plaintiff proposed to settle this dispute on behalf of herself and all other former employees who received the same COBRA Notice and did not elect COBRA coverage because they participated in the group healthcare plans sponsored by Defendant.The class definition is as follows:“All participants and beneficiaries in the Defendant’s Health Plan who were sent a required COBRA notice by Defendant, between November 12, 2015 and November 5, 2018 and who did not: (i) elect COBRA or (ii) execute an arbitration agreement with a class and collective waiver.”  (referenced herein as the “Settlement Class”).
  • Membership in the Settlement Class will be determined based upon Defendant’s records reflecting who received the specific COBRA Notice at issue.It is estimated that the Settlement Class is comprised of 12,170 potential members.
  • You received notice of this settlement by mail which directed you to this website because Defendant’s records indicate that you are eligible to receive benefits from this proposed class action settlement.
  • Your rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in this Notice. Here is a brief summary of your rights and options.

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT

Do Nothing

If you do nothing and the Court approves this settlement, you will receive a settlement payment.  As a member of the Settlement Class, you will release Defendant from any potential liability regarding the COBRA notice and the issues raised in this lawsuit.

Ask to be Excluded by November 10, 2020

If you do not want to be included in the case and the settlement, you must take action to exclude yourself.  This is called “opting out.” To opt out, you must state in writing that you have elected to opt out of the case and the settlement, and send your written notice to the Settlement Administrator by November 10, 2020.  If you elect to opt out, you may pursue your own action against Defendant for the claims raised in this case if you choose to do so.

Object by

November 10, 2020

You may write to the Court about why you don’t like the settlement, if you object to any of its terms.  To object to the settlement you must: (i) state your objection with specificity; (ii) state whether your objection pertains only to yourself or some or all of the Settlement Class; and (iii) return your objection timely. You may not file an objection if you opt out of the settlement.

Go to a Hearing on December 4, 2020

If you wish to be heard, you may attend the Final Approval Hearing and ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the settlement. You are not required to attend the hearing.  If you opt out, you may not present your opinions regarding the settlement at the Final Approval Hearing.

 

The Court still has to decide whether to approve this settlement, which may take some time.