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Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company (“Universal Property”) sells residential property insurance. As is standard in the industry, Universal Property allows its customers’ mortgage lenders to verify insurance coverage via the Internet on a specially designated place on the company’s website (the “Lender Verification Portal”). On March 7, 2016, four customers filed a putative class action in federal court in Florida on behalf of themselves and other Universal Property customers, alleging that customers’ insurance declaration and evidence of insurance pages (“Insurance Documents”) were available on the Lender Verification Portal without sufficient security procedures in place. The Insurance Documents contain customer information that the plaintiffs regard as sensitive.
No allegations related to improper access, use of the Insurance Documents, or any loss of policyholders have been made, and Universal Property stands by its website security procedures. The parties conducted discovery, and the parties conducted a full-day mediation with a retired federal judge on December 8, 2016. On January 31, 2017, the parties agreed to a settlement of all claims.
The Court has not decided in favor of either side in the case. Universal Property is settling to avoid the expense, inconvenience, and risk of litigation, as well as the disruption of its business operations. Plaintiffs and their attorneys assert that the settlement is in the best interests of the Settlement Class because it provides a fair and reasonable recovery now while avoiding the risk, expense, and delay of pursuing the case through trial and any appeals.
The Settlement Class is defined as all persons who insured real property with Universal Property between September 1, 2013 and March 31, 2016. Excluded from the Settlement Class are past or current officers, directors, affiliates, legal representatives, predecessors, successors, and assigns of Universal Property, any entity in which any such excluded person or entity has a controlling interest, and all judicial officers assigned to this case as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 455(b), and their immediate families. For the avoidance of doubt, also excluded are Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc., Atlas Premium Finance Company, and any entity in which either of them have controlling interest, either directly or indirectly. Also excluded from the Settlement Class are all persons who submit valid requests for exclusion from the Settlement Class (see Question No. 6, below).
Universal Property agrees to provide managed recovery and restoration services for identity theft victims, identity theft reimbursement insurance, injunctive relief, incentive awards to the class representatives, attorneys’ fees for class counsel, and notice and administration costs.
To exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you must send a letter saying that you want to be excluded from the class in the Universal Property Litigation. Your written exclusion request must include your name, address, telephone number, email contact information (if any), and signature, and a statement to the effect that: “I/We hereby request to be excluded from the proposed Settlement Class in the Universal Property Litigation.” Your exclusion request must be sent to the following address so that it is received no later than June 14, 2017 Universal Property Settlement c/o Heffler Claims Group, PO Box 59329 Philadelphia, PA 19102-9329
If you elect to exclude yourself, you will (i) not be bound by any further orders or judgments in this case, and (ii) remain able to pursue claims alleged in the Litigation against Universal Property by filing your own lawsuit at your own expense. If you proceed on an individual basis, you may receive nothing at all, or more, or less, of a benefit than you would otherwise receive under this settlement.
If you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you can comment in support of or in opposition to the settlement. Your objection or comment must be submitted in writing to all three (3) of the following addresses below and must be sent so that it is received no later than June 14, 2017:
|Court:||Clerk of Court, United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse
299 East Broward Boulevard #108
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
|Settlement Class Counsel:||Frederic S. Fox
David A. Straite
KAPLAN FOX & KILSHEIMER LLP
850 Third Avenue,
New York, New York 10022
|Universal Property’s Counsel:||
Edward R. McNicholas
The objection or comment must include the case name and number (Rodriguez, et al. v. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. 16-cv-60442) and also include: (a) your full name, address, telephone number, and email contact information (if any); (b) a signed statement that you are a member of the Settlement Class; (c) the grounds for your objection or comment; (d) whether you and/or your attorney (if any) intend to appear at the Final Fairness Hearing (see Question No. 9, below); and (e) the name, address, and telephone number of the attorney, if any, who will appear. If you wish to be heard orally at the Final Fairness Hearing, you must also include the names of any witnesses you may call to testify and a description of any exhibits you intend to introduce into evidence.
The Court will consider all timely objections and comments from Settlement Class members. To appeal from any provision of the order approving the settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate, the award of incentive payments, or the award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses paid by Universal Property and awarded to Settlement Class Counsel, you must appear in person or through your counsel, or, ask the Court in your objection to excuse such appearance prior to the Final Fairness Hearing.
If the Court grants final approval to the settlement, all members of the Settlement Class will release all claims or causes of action arising from or relating to all claims that were or could have been asserted in the Litigation. All members of the Settlement Class who do not exclude themselves from the Settlement Class will release any claims they may have, including any future claims, against Universal Property and related entities covered by the release. You may refer to paragraph 10.1 of the Settlement Agreement for a full description of the claims and persons that will be released upon final approval of the settlement.
You can obtain a copy of the Settlement Agreement (i) from the Clerk of the Court, (ii) on this website here or (iii) by writing to Universal Property Settlement c/o Heffler Claims Group PO Box 59329 Philadelphia, PA 19102-9329. If you do not wish to be a Settlement Class Member, you must exclude yourself from the Settlement Class (see Question No. 6, above).
If the settlement is not approved, the case will proceed as if no settlement had been attempted. There can be no assurance that if the settlement is not approved and litigation resumes, the Settlement Class will recover more than is provided for under the settlement, or will recover anything.
A Final Fairness Hearing has been set for July 31, 2017 at 10:00 am in Courtroom 203E before Judge James I. Cohn Courtroom 203E of the United States Courthouse, 299 East Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At the hearing, the Court will hear any comments, objections, and arguments concerning the fairness of the proposed settlement, including the amount requested by Settlement Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses, and incentive awards for the plaintiffs. The motions for attorneys’ fees and costs and plaintiff incentive awards will be posted on the settlement website after they are filed. You do not need to attend the Final Fairness Hearing to remain a member of the Settlement Class or receive the relief provided by the settlement (see Question No. 4, above).
This notice provides only a summary of the matters relating to the settlement. For more detailed information, you may wish to review the Settlement Agreement preliminarily approved on February 14, 2017. You can view the - Settlement Agreement and get more information here. You can also get more information by writing to Settlement Class Counsel at the address listed in Question No. 7 or calling toll-free 1-844-702-2785 The Settlement Agreement and all other pleadings and papers filed in connection with the settlement are available for inspection and copying during regular business hours at the office of the Clerk of the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse, 299 East Broward Boulevard #108, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301.
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR UNIVERSAL PROPERTY WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT.