I have noticed that the settlement administrator, counsel for SLX and class counsel have not yet resolved any of the disputes that have arisen so far regarding my clients' ratings. Instead, my clients get e-mails back from firstname.lastname@example.org saying only that "we are investigating" or "the investigation is continuing." Many of my clients are concerned that these disputes will not be resolved before the February 13, 2010 deadline. It is now apparent that some of these disputes will not be resolved until after the February 13, 2010 deadline. I discussed this matter yesterday and today with class counsel Andy August and Kevin Rooney. Andy August assured me that the Settlement Administrator, counsel for SLX and Class Counsel are in the process of resolving the disputes that have been submitted regarding the number of certifications and the incorrect assignment to the settlement subclasses. There is a detailed settlement dispute process outlined in the Settlement Agreement. It generally works as follows:
1. Student’s Notice states more certifications than actually received while at Silver State (i.e., includes other certifications obtained before or after attendance at SSH);
2. Student contacts email@example.com and is directed to follow instructions on the FAQs by submitting appropriate evidence to the Settlement Administrator (with a cover letter signed “under penalty of perjury”);
3. Student sends information and cover letter to the Settlement Administrator at Silverstatesettlement@gardencitygroup.com and sends hard copy to:
Silver State Loan Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 9462
Dublin, Ohio 43107-4562
Be sure to send a copy to Class Counsel at the firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Settlement Administrator sends e-mails back to student that "we are investigating" or "the investigation is continuing."
5. The Settlement Administrator then sends your evidence to both the Class Counsel and to SLX’s lawyers.
6. If SLX disagrees with the evidence submitted by the student, then the Class Counsel and SLX’s lawyers “meet and confer” about each student’s challenge. This will be done on an on-going basis. If there is no disagreement, the student is re-classified. If there is a disagreement, the Class Action lawyers will represent your interest before Judge William Cahill who will have the final say.
Many of these disputes may be resolved before the February 13, 2010 deadline, especially if you have submitted your evidence already or do so immediately. Some of these disputes will not be resolved until after the February 13, 2010 deadline.
You will not have to make any payments under the Settlement Agreement until you receive a “Reduced Monthly Repayment Notice” from SLX/AES which should reflect your proper classification by showing the proper amount due (it will not show a change in the number of certifications).
Here is the relevant part of the settlement agreement in its entirety:
"10. Dispute Resolution Procedure. If a Class Member disagrees with the number of FAA certifications, the corresponding percentage of unconditional debt forgiveness and conditional debt forgiveness being provided, or the amount of his/her Debt, the following dispute resolution procedure shall be used:
10.1 The Class Member shall send to the Settlement Administrator a written statement
signed under penalty of perjury setting forth the basis of the Class Member’s dispute and submitting his/her evidence or documentation to support that assertion (including any written statements from witnesses supporting the person’s position, log books, flight records, correspondence with Silver State, SLX, or AES, FAA records regarding the number of FAA Certifications obtained, and any other evidentiary material) (“Disputed Claim”). To be timely,the Class Member must send the Disputed Claim so that it is received by the Settlement Administrator on or before the Disputed Claim Deadline. No Disputed Claims received after the Disputed Claim Deadline shall be considered. No evidence or documentation received after the
Disputed Claim Deadline submitted in support of a Disputed Claim received prior to the Disputed Claim Deadline shall be considered.
10.2 The Settlement Administrator shall provide a copy of each Disputed Claim,
including any evidence or documentation submitted in connection therewith, to Class Counsel and to Counsel for SLX within ten (10) days of its receipt.
10.3 SLX’s counsel and Class Counsel shall meet and confer on the Disputed Claims.
If Class Counsel and SLX’s counsel agree as to the resolution of the Disputed Claims, their agreement shall control.
10.4 If SLX’s counsel and Class Counsel cannot reach agreement on the resolution of
the Disputed Claims, such Disputed Claims shall be submitted to retired California Superior Court Judge William J. Cahill (Ret.) of JAMS for resolution on or before ninety (90) days after the Notice Date [December 30, 2009]. SLX may submit evidence to Judge Cahill regarding any such Disputed Claim(s), with a copy to Class Counsel, by that same date. All Disputed Claims shall be decided by Judge Cahill without a hearing, unless such a hearing is requested by Judge Cahill, in which case, the participants may partic ipate by telephone. The parties shall request that Judge Cahill decide all Disputed Claims within thirty (30) days of their submission. The decision of Judge Cahill shall be final, non-appealable and binding on the Class Member and SLX. Judge Cahill’s fees, if any, shall be split equally between SLX and Class Counsel."
In every case that I have seen in which SLX made an error regarding the FAA certifications received by my clients, SLX has charged former students for certifications that they received before they attended SSH or after SSH filed bankruptcy. This certification information appears in section 7 of the Settlement Notices. It is important that every class member check the Notice carefully to see if he or she has been credited with the proper number of certifications and placed in the proper subclass.