Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the Notice?

    Do not be alarmed. You have not been sued. The Notice is to inform you of this proposed class action settlement, to alert you to the fact that you have been identified as a member of the Partial Settlement Class, which has been certified by the Court; and, to inform you of your rights and options as a member of the class.

    A Notice was sent based upon the City of Shreveport’s records indicating former or current customers with a residential account of the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewer and paid a “Sewer Quantity Charge” on their water bill during the Class period (October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2019).

    You may be entitled to receive monetary benefits under a Partial Settlement of legal claims relating to the amounts that you were overcharged for the “Sewer Quantity Charge” portion of your water bill.

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  2. Do I have to do anything?

    If you are a member of the Partial Settlement Class, and after the Court grants final approval of the Partial Settlement and it becomes effective, you do not have to do anything to receive payment (or credit) under the Partial Settlement. As set forth below, you also have the option to object to the proposed Partial Settlement, or you may exclude yourself from the Settlement. If you choose to exclude yourself from the Partial Settlement, you will not receive any payments or credits from the Partial Settlement, and you will retain your right to file any claim you may have against Defendant on your own and at your own expense.

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  3. What is a class action lawsuit?

    In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this case, T. Scott Pernici, Michael Jones, and Mark Defatta) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The Class Representatives who sued—and all the Class Members like them—are called the Plaintiffs. The entity that the Class Representatives sued (in this case, the City of Shreveport), is called the Defendant. One court resolves the issues for all of the Class Members, except for those who may choose to exclude themselves from the Class. This Notice is provided because the Court has decided that this matter should proceed as a class action lawsuit, and the Defendant has agreed to a proposed Partial Settlement with the Class.

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  4. What is this class action lawsuit about?

    On or about March 29, 2017, Class Counsel filed an Original Petition on behalf of named Plaintiffs, T. Scott Pernici, Michael Jones, and Mark Defatta, individually and on behalf of current and former customers of the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewerage in which Plaintiffs alleged that the City was overbilling customers for their sewer services by way of non-compliance with the City of Shreveport’s Code of Ordinances, Section 94-165(2)(a) (hereinafter referred to as “the Ordinance”). In short, the method and process that the City was utilizing to calculate and apply a customer’s Average Winter Consumption (“AWC”) was inconsistent and at odds with the plain language of Section 94-165(2)(a). The Partial Settlement, here, deals with the City’s practice of “rounding up” a residential customer’s AWC to a whole thousand gallon. This practice began in October 2011. The Court has already ruled in favor of the Partial Settlement Class on the question of the City’s liability for this practice.

    Plaintiffs’ allegations are detailed in the Original Class Action Petition and subsequent amendments, which are available on the Important Documents page of this website.

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  5. Who is in the Partial Settlement?

    If you received a notice of the Partial Settlement from a postcard addressed to you, then you may be a part of the Partial Settlement Class. If you did not receive a postcard, you may still be in the Partial Settlement Class, as described below.

    The Partial Settlement Class includes:

    All persons (natural or juridical) that that have or had a “inside city” and/or “outside city” residential account with the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewerage that:

    (A) received and paid a bill(s) from the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewerage (“DOWAS”) at any time during the period beginning and including October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2019; and,

    (B) were overcharged for the “Sewer Quantity Charge” on any such bill(s), when the Average Winter Consumption (“AWC”) is applied to a residential customer’s “Sewer Quantity Charge”, which results from DOWAS’ practice of—after “truncating” when reading the meter and only reading the “thousands” of gallons—rounding up to the nearest “whole thousand gallon”—which is accomplished: after eliminating the highest “month” and lowest “month” (of the four “months” used to determine the AWC); adding the remaining two “months” and averaging those two months; rounding up to the next “whole thousand gallon” to determine the residential customer’s AWC; and, applying that “rounded” amount to a residential customer’s “Sewer Quantity Charge” (referred to, from time to time, as the “rounding error”), as more fully described and alleged in paragraph 80 of Plaintiffs’ Original Class Action Petition.

    You may contact the Settlement Administrator if you have any questions about whether you are in the Partial Settlement Class, by writing to:

    City of Shreveport’s DOWAS Partial Rounding Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3518
    Portland, OR 97208-3518

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  6. Why is there a Partial Settlement?

    The Court has found in favor of the Settlement Class on the issue of liability, but has not decided in favor of either party on the issue of the amount of damages. Instead, both sides agreed to the Partial Settlement as to the amount of damages on this issue in the class action. By agreeing to the Partial Settlement, the Parties avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial, and Partial Settlement Class Members receive the benefits described in this Notice. The Class Representatives and Class Counsel think that the Partial Settlement is best for everyone who is affected.

    This is also considered a “Partial Settlement” because there are still a number of issues that were raised in the Class Action Petition that have not been resolved and that Class Counsel and the City of Shreveport are still litigating in the courts. Those issues may still go to trial, but are not addressed or made part of this proposed Partial Settlement.

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  7. What does the Partial Settlement Provide?

    If you received a postcard Notice in the mail and wish to remain a member of the Partial Settlement Class, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING AT THIS TIME.

    You will be entitled to receive the benefits provided by the proposed Partial Settlement if the Court grants final approval of the Partial Settlement and accompanying documents.

    Pursuant to the proposed Partial Settlement and Order granting Preliminary Approval of Partial Settlement, the City of Shreveport will provide benefits to the Partial Settlement Class consisting of cash and account credits. The City of Shreveport will pay five million, nine hundred thousand dollars ($5,900,000.00) to the Common Benefit Fund.

    The Common Benefit Fund will be distributed among the Partial Settlement Class proportionately based on how long and during what time period each Class Member was a residential customer of the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water & Sewerage. There will be a distribution from the Common Benefit Fund of the five million nine hundred thousand dollars ($5,900,000.00) less (1) attorneys’ fees and costs approved by the Court; and, (2) compensatory awards to Class Representatives approved by the Court.

    1. Settlement Class Members who are current customers of the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewerage who are entitled to a payment of $25.00 or less will receive payment under this Partial Settlement in the form of a bill credit.
    2. Settlement Class members who are current customers of the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewerage who are entitled to a payment of more than $25.00 will receive payment under this Partial Settlement in the form of a check to the address on file with the City of Shreveport (or to any better address that can be found or that you may provide).
    3. Settlement Class members who are former customers of the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water and Sewerage will receive payment under this Partial Settlement in the form of a check to the address on file with the City of Shreveport (or to any better address that can be found or that you may provide).
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  8. How much money will I receive?

    The Partial Settlement amount will be determined at the Final Fairness and Approval Hearing. Payments to Class Members will be made only after the Court grants “final approval” and any appeals period has expired. If there are appeals, legal resolution can take time. Please be patient.

    The amount paid to each class member will vary depending on the duration of and during what time period(s) the Class Member was a customer less attorneys’ fees and costs.

    In order to fairly allocate the $5,900,000.00, the City of Shreveport will apply a percentage calculation to the bill(s) paid by each Class Member for the time period of October 2011 through December 31, 2019.

    For more details on the proposed calculations for distribution of the $5,900,000.00 settlement fund please visit the Motion for Preliminary Approval of the Partial Settlement, Exhibit C on the Important Documents page.

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  9. How do I receive a payment or an Account Credit?

    If you received a postcard Notice in the mail you are in the Partial Settlement Class and entitled to receive a cash benefit; you do not need to do anything to receive a payment or Account Credit. If the Court approves the Partial Settlement and it becomes final and effective, and you remain in the Partial Settlement Class, all Partial Settlement Class Members who did not have a negative account balance if and when s/he closed her account with DOWAS, will automatically receive a payment or Account credit for their portion of the overcharges that were paid during the time period covered by the Partial Settlement.

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  10. Am I giving anything up by staying in the Partial Settlement Class?

    Unless you exclude yourself from the Partial Settlement Class, you cannot sue, continue to sue or be part of any other lawsuit against the City of Shreveport about the “rounding” issue in this case. It also means that all of the decisions by the Court will bind you. The Release described herein below and as provided in more detail in the Order granting Preliminary Approval of Partial Class Action Settlement describe the precise legal claims that you give up if you remain in the Partial Settlement. The Partial Settlement Agreement, the Order granting Preliminary Approval of Class Action Partial Settlement and other settlement-related documents are available on the Important Documents page of this website.

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  11. How do I get out of the Partial Settlement?

    If you do not want benefits from the Partial Settlement, and you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue the City of Shreveport on your own about the legal issues addressed in this Partial Settlement, or you want to do nothing and have no connection with or benefit from the Partial Settlement, then you must take steps to get out of the Partial Settlement. This is called excluding yourself—or it is sometimes referred to as “opting out” of the Settlement Class.

    To exclude yourself from the Partial Settlement, you must send a letter that includes the following:

    1. Your name, address and telephone number;
    2. Your DOWAS account number(s) (if known);
    3. A statement that you want to be excluded from the Partial “Rounding” Settlement in Pernici et al v. City of Shreveport, No.: 599,698-C; First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana; and,
    4. Your signature.

    You must mail your exclusion request, postmarked no later than September 29, 2020 to:

    City of Shreveport’s DOWAS Partial Rounding Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3518
    Portland, OR 97208-3518

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  12. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the City of Shreveport for the same thing later?

    No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue the City of Shreveport for the claims that this Partial Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Partial Settlement Class in order to try to pursue your own lawsuit.

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  13. If I exclude myself from the Partial Settlement, can I still receive payment or Account Credit?

    No. You will not receive a payment or an Account Credit if you exclude yourself from the Partial Settlement.

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  14. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    The Court has approved of three lawyers as “Class Counsel” to represent you and others in this matter. Jerald R. Harper and Anne E. Wilkes of the Harper Law Firm, APLC, in Shreveport, Louisiana, have been confirmed and approved as Class Counsel, and they are responsible for handling all Settlement-related matters on behalf of Plaintiffs. Michael Wainwright has also been approved as counsel for Plaintiffs in this matter. If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

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  15. How will the lawyers be paid?

    Class Counsel has been representing you and will continue to represent your interests (along with the Class Representatives) in this case. At the outset, in March 2017, Class Counsel agreed to handle this case on a “contingent” basis and advance all costs and expenses on behalf of the Plaintiffs and the Partial Settlement Class. Class Counsel intend to file a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs to be paid from the Common Benefit Fund in an amount not to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the Common Benefit Fund, inclusive of costs and expenses. Class Counsel’s motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs must be approved by the Court. Class Counsel will also seek approval of compensatory awards to the Class Representatives in the amount of four thousand five hundred dollars ($4,500.00) to recognize their time, energy and commitment during the litigation.

    You also have the right to object and tell the Court that you do not agree with all or parts of the Partial Settlement or other details in the Preliminary Approval Order.

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  16. How do I tell the Court I don’t like the Partial Settlement?

    If you are a member of the Partial Settlement Class, you can object, without appearing in Court, to any part of the Partial Settlement, the Partial Settlement as a whole (as detailed in the Order of Preliminary Approval), Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs; and/or, the request for incentive award for named Class Representatives.

    In order to object, you must submit a letter that includes the following:

    • The name of the case, which is Pernici et al v. City of Shreveport; No.: 599,698-C; First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana;
    • Your full name, address and telephone number;
    • Your DOWAS account number(s) (if known);
    • An explanation of the basis upon which you claim to be a member of the Partial Settlement Class;
    • A statement with specificity of the grounds for your objection, and whether the objection applies only to you, a specific subset of the Partial Settlement Class, or the entire Settlement Class, accompanied by any legal support for your objection known to your or your counsel (if you have your own attorney);
    • The number of times in which you have objected to a class action settlement within the last five years and the caption(s) of those cases; and, a copy of any orders related to or ruling upon your prior such objections;
    • The identity of all counsel who represent you (if any) related to your objection to the proposed Partial Settlement;
    • Whether you wish to be heard in person at the final approval hearing; and
    • Your personal signature. (An attorney's signature is not sufficient)

    You must submit your objection to all of the people listed below, postmarked or delivered no later than September 29, 2020:

    Caddo Parish Clerk of Court
    First Judicial District Court
    501 Texas Street
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
    HARPER LAW FIRM, APLC
    Re: Pernici v. COS
    P.O. Box 1816
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71166
    PETTIETTE, ARMAND, DUNKELMAN, WOODLEY, BYRD & CROMWELL, LLP
    ATTN: Edwin H. Byrd, IIII
    Re: Pernici v. COS
    400 Texas Street, Suite 400
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71101

    Any Partial Settlement Class Member who does not properly file and serve a timely written objection to the Partial Settlement shall not be permitted to object to the Partial Settlement at the Fairness Hearing and shall be foreclosed from seeking review of the Partial Settlement by appeal, collateral attack, or otherwise.

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  17. What is the difference between objecting and excluding?

    Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Partial Settlement. You can object to the Partial Settlement only if you do not exclude yourself from the Partial Settlement. Excluding yourself from the Partial Settlement is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Partial settlement. If you exclude yourself from the Partial Settlement, you have no basis to object to the Partial Settlement because it no longer affects you.

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  18. When and where is the Final Fairness and Approval Hearing?

    The Court will hold a final hearing to consider the fairness and adequacy of the Partial Settlement (including those terms detailed in the Order granting Preliminary Approval) and to consider Class Counsel’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses as well as Approval for the Compensatory award for Class Representatives. This hearing will occur on November 12, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. at the Caddo Parish Courthouse (First Judicial District Court), 501 Texas Street, Shreveport, LA 71101.

    The proposed Partial Settlement is intended to resolve and terminate any and all claims that were raised or could have been raised by or on behalf of the Class Members as alleged in the Complaint in this matter relating to the City of Shreveport’s application of a residential customer’s Average Winter Consumption to that customer’s “Sewer Quantity Charge” when the AWC has been rounded up from a partial-thousand gallon to a whole thousand gallon. The proposed Partial Settlement, if finally approved by the Court, will result in the release by each Partial Settlement Class Member of all such claims. And, if the proposed Partial Settlement is finally approved by the Court, the Court will thereafter enter an Order dismissing such claims with prejudice as to all Partial Settlement Class Members.

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  19. Do I have to come to the Final Fairness and Approval Hearing?

    No. Settlement Class Counsel will answer any questions that the Court may have. But you have the right to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you submitted your written objection on time, to the proper address and it complies with the requirements set forth above, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.

    You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. Any Class member who wishes to appear at the Final Approval Hearing must file with the Clerk of the Court a “Notice of Intention to Appear,” which must be received by September 29, 2020, and submitted to all of the addresses listed in below. The Notice of Intention to Appear must include:

    • The name of the case, which is Pernici et al v. City of Shreveport; No.: 599,698-C; First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana;
    • Your full name, address and telephone number;
    • Your DOWAS account number(s) (if known);
    • An explanation of the basis upon which you claim to be a member of the Partial Settlement Class;
    • A statement with specificity of the grounds for your objection, and whether the objection applies only to you, a specific subset of the Partial Settlement Class, or the entire Settlement Class, accompanied by any legal support for your objection known to you or your counsel (if you have your own attorney);
    • The number of times in which you have objected to a class action settlement within the last five years and the caption(s) of those cases; and, a copy of any orders related to or ruling upon your prior such objections;
    • The identity of all counsel who represent you (if any) related to your objection to the proposed Partial Settlement;
    • A statement confirming whether you intend to personally appear, and/or testify at the final approval hearing;
    • The identity of all counsel (if any) representing you who will appear at the final approval hearing;
    • The reasons you want to be heard;
    • Copies of any papers, exhibits, or other evidence or information that is to be presented to the Court at the Final Approval Hearing;
    • A list of all person(s) who will be called to testify at the final approval hearing in support of your objection (if any); and,
    • Your personal signature. (An attorney's signature is not sufficient)

    You must submit your Notice of Intention to Appear to all of the people listed below, postmarked or delivered no later than September 29, 2020:

    Caddo Parish Clerk of Court
    First Judicial District Court
    501 Texas Street
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
    HARPER LAW FIRM, APLC
    Re: Pernici v. COS
    P.O. Box 1816
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71166
    PETTIETTE, ARMAND, DUNKELMAN, WOODLEY, BYRD & CROMWELL, LLP
    ATTN: Edwin H. Byrd, IIII
    Re: Pernici v. COS
    400 Texas Street, Suite 400
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71101

    Only a Class member who files a Notice of Intention to Appear may appear in person or by counsel, and be heard to the extent permitted under applicable law and allowed by the Court, in opposition to the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the Settlement, and on Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s application for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs.

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  20. What happens if I do nothing?

    If you do nothing, you will still receive the benefits to which you are entitled. Unless you exclude yourself, you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit on the issues addressed in the Partial Settlement, or be part of any other lawsuit against the City of Shreveport relating to the issues in the Partial Settlement.

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  21. What if I moved?

    If your mailing address has changed or is expected to change in the near future, or if you received a summary “Postcard” Notice at an address other than what was listed on the postcard, you should send your new mailing address, along with your name, DOWAS account number(s) (if known) for which you received the Postcard Notice to the Settlement Administrator at:

    City of Shreveport’s DOWAS Partial Rounding Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3518
    Portland, OR 97208-3518

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  22. What if I am no longer a customer of the City of Shreveport Department of Water & Sewerage?

    For purposes of the proposed Partial Settlement, you are a member of the Settlement Class and entitled to receive payment under the Partial Settlement if you were billed and paid for sewer services with the City of Shreveport’s Department of Water & Sewerage for the time period of October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2019.

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  23. Where can I get more information?

    The descriptions in this Notice of the claims, Partial Settlement, and related documents in this case are only summaries. If you would like more information, please call the automated Settlement Information line at (855) 917-3505; or write to:

    City of Shreveport’s DOWAS Partial Rounding Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3518
    Portland, OR 97208-3518

    You may also consult with your own attorney.

    The Partial Settlement Agreement, Order Approving Preliminary Partial Settlement, and all other documents filed in this lawsuit may be reviewed and copied at the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court, located at 501 Texas Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. You may also view the Partial Settlement Agreement, Order Approving Preliminary Partial Settlement and other settlement-related documents on the Important Documents page of this website.

    Please do not call the Judge, the Clerk, or the Court about this Notice or the lawsuit. They will not be able to give you advice or answer your questions.

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