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Frequently Asked Questions






What is the lawsuit about?

The Plaintiff claims that Unitrinís application of betterment adjustments constitutes: (1) a breach of contract; (2) a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) a violation of Californiaís Business and Professions Code ß 17200, et. seq.

The Plaintiff asked the Court to order Unitrin to pay back to each Class Member the total amount of betterment adjustment Unitrin applied, plus interest and punitive damages. Unitrin denies the Plaintiffís allegations; denies that it has engaged in any wrongdoing; and maintains that it consistently has acted in accordance with its insurance policies and all governing laws.

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Why is this a Class Action?

In a Class Action, one or more people, called Class Representatives (in this case Alessandro N. Latora), sue 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 excluded themselves from the Class. Judge Steven A. Brick is in charge of this Class Action.

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Why is there a Settlement?

The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiff or Defendant. Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement. That way, they avoid the cost of a trial, and the people affected will get compensation. The Class Representative and his attorney think the Settlement is best for everyone who is part of the Class.

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How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

Judge Brick decided that everyone who fits this description is a Class Member: All California policyholders of Unitrin who filed a claim between June 20, 2002 and December 31, 2007, where the claim was paid by Unitrin subject to a betterment adjustment.

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What does the Settlement provide?

Class Members will receive a payment from Unitrin in the amount of ninety-five percent (95%) of all betterment adjustments Unitrin applied, for the period from June 20, 2002 through December 31, 2007. Class Members will not receive interest or punitive damages. The total monetary value of this benefit to the Class as a whole is presently approximately $168,000.

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What am I giving up to get a payment or stay in the Class?

Unless you excluded yourself no later than February 3, 2009, you are included in the Class, and that means that you canít sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Unitrin about the legal issues in this case. It also means that all of the Courtís orders apply to you and legally bind you. If you failed to exclude yourself from the Class you also gave up any right you had to interest and punitive damages.

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How can I get payment?

You do not need to do anything in order to receive payment. You will receive a check from the Settlement Administrator.

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When would I get my payment?

Update: Checks were mailed on September 4, 2009. Please allow about 2 weeks to receive your payment.

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How do I get out of the Settlement?

The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement was February 3, 2009.

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If I didnít exclude myself, can I sue Unitrin for the same thing later?

No. Unless you excluded yourself, you gave up the right to sue Unitrin for the claims that this Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately. You must have excluded yourself from this Class to continue your own lawsuit. The exclusion deadline was February 3, 2009.

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If I excluded myself, can I get money from this Settlement?

No. If you excluded yourself, you will not receive any money from this Settlement. But, you may sue, or continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against Unitrin.

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Do I have a lawyer in this case?

The Court asked the Law Office of William E. Kennedy to represent you and other Class Members. They are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

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How will the lawyers be paid?

The Court has approved a payment of attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses to Class Counsel in the amount of $155,000, and has approved a payment of $7,500 to the Class Representative Alessandro N. Latora. Unitrin will separately pay the fees and expenses. These amounts will not come out of the fund for payments to Class Members. Unitrin will also separately pay the costs to administer the Settlement.

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How do I tell the Court that I donít like the Settlement?

The deadline to object to or comment in support of the settlement was February 3, 2009.

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Whatís the difference between objecting and excluding?

Objecting is simply telling the Court that you donít like something about the Settlement. You could have objected only if you stayed in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you donít want to be part of the Class. If you excluded yourself, you had no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.

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

IMPORTANT UPDATE: PLEASE BE ADVISED, THE COURT GRANTED FINAL APPROVAL OF THE SETTLEMENT.

The Court held a Fairness Hearing at 3:00 p.m. on May 20, 2009, and (1) decided that the Settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate; (2) approved the payment of attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses to Class Counsel in the amount of $155,000; and (3) approved the payment of an incentive award to Plaintiff Alessandra N. Latora in the amount of $7,500.

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What happens if I do nothing at all?

If you did nothing, you will receive a payment consisting of 95% of any betterment adjustment Unitrin previously made to claims submitted for damage to your car. You will not receive any interest on this money, nor punitive damages. Unless you excluded yourself, you wonít be able to start a lawsuit, continue a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Unitrin about the legal issues in this case, ever again.

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Are there more details about the Settlement?

More details are available in the Notice, Settlement Agreement and Final Order and Judgment Approving Settlement. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement on this website or by writing to Latora v. Unitrin, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 91186, Seattle, Washington 98111-9286.

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