Frequently Asked Questions
Why did the Court Issue the Notice?
The Notice is given to inform potential Class Members that (1) a class action lawsuit is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York entitled Jenkins et al. v. National Grid USA Service Company Inc., Et al. Case No. 15-cv-1219. (the “Action”); (2) that certain people may be Settlement Class Members; (3) the parties have proposed to settle the Action; (4) the Proposed Settlement may affect your legal rights; and (5) you have a number of options.
What is the lawsuit about?
The Lawsuit claims that National Grid and its debt collectors made calls with automated dialers and/or prerecorded or artificial voice messages to cellular telephones related to: (1) the payment or status of a current or past National Grid Utility Account or bill; (2) an “important matter” concerning a current or past National Grid Utility Account or bill; (3) a disconnect notice concerning a current or past National Grid Utility Account; (4) an invitation from National Grid to attend a Customer Assistance Expo or to meet with or speak to the National Grid Consumer Advocacy Group, National Grid Consumer Advocate, or National Grid Credit Department; or (5) the availability of a government assistance program, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), to assist with payments to National Grid, all without the prior express consent of the persons called. Plaintiffs allege that this conduct violates the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. National Grid denies those allegations and disputes that it did anything wrong.
Some of the calls at issue in the Lawsuit were made directly by National Grid, while others were made by debt collectors hired by National Grid to collect utility debts that were allegedly past due. Many of the calls were made to persons who are or were National Grid utility account holders, but some calls were made to persons who were not a National Grid account holder. “National Grid” includes utilities operating in New York as KeySpan Gas East Corporation, The Brooklyn Union Gas Company, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation; in Massachusetts as Boston Gas Company, Colonial Gas Company (now part of Boston Gas), Massachusetts Electric Company, Nantucket Electric Company; and in Rhode Island as The Narragansett Electric Company.
Plaintiffs Jarrett Jenkins, Emmot Steele, Frances Royal, Danai Ewan, and Charmaine Whyte filed the Lawsuit against National Grid and some of its affiliated companies about these issues. The operative Third Amended Class Action Complaint in the Lawsuit is available on the Important Documents page of this website.
Plaintiffs and National Grid have now agreed to a Settlement to resolve the Lawsuit, as described below. The Court has not decided whether Plaintiffs or National Grid are correct. By agreeing to the Settlement, neither National Grid nor Plaintiffs make any admissions regarding the merits of the allegations, claims, or defenses in this case.
Another National Grid customer has filed a separate class action making similar claims as made in the Lawsuit. That case is known as MacKenzie v. National Grid USA Service Company, Inc., No. 2:19-cv-01916-JS-JMW (E.D.N.Y.). If the Settlement of the Lawsuit is approved and becomes final, the Plaintiff in the MacKenzie lawsuit (Kristin MacKenzie) will become a plaintiff in the Lawsuit (along with the five (5) other Plaintiffs identified above) and the MacKenzie lawsuit will be dismissed.
Both the Lawsuit and the separate MacKenzie lawsuit were filed in The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and are pending before the Honorable Joanna Seybert, United States District Judge.
What is the Definition of the Class?
The Court has certified a Settlement Class defined as the following:
All persons residing in the United States who, from March 9, 2011 until October 29, 2021, received a telephone call on a cellular telephone using a prerecorded or artificial voice message concerning: (1) the payment or status of a current or past National Grid utility bill or account; (2) an “important matter” concerning a current or past National Grid utility bill or account; (3) a disconnect notice concerning a current or past National Grid utility account; (4) an invitation from National Grid to attend a Customer Assistance Expo or to meet with or speak to the National Grid Consumer Advocacy Group, National Grid Consumer Advocate, or National Grid Credit Department; or (5) the availability of a government assistance program, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), to assist with payments to National Grid. “National Grid” includes utilities operating in New York as KeySpan Gas East Corporation, The Brooklyn Union Gas Company, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation; in Massachusetts as Boston Gas Company, Colonial Gas Company (now part of Boston Gas), Massachusetts Electric Company, Nantucket Electric Company; and in Rhode Island as The Narragansett Electric Company. The Settlement Class excludes (1) officers, directors and employees of National Grid as well as any outside counsel representing National Grid in this litigation; (2) any judge to whom this case is assigned, along with his or her staff, and (3) immediate family of any individual excluded by (1) or (2).
Why is this a class action?
In a class action, one or more people sue on behalf of themselves and other people with similar claims. All of these people together make up the Settlement Class and are Settlement Class members. One court resolves the issues for all Settlement Class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Settlement Class.
Why is there a Settlement?
Both sides in the Lawsuit agreed to a Settlement to avoid the cost and risk of further litigation, including a potential trial, and so that the Class Members can receive benefits in exchange for releasing Defendants from liability. The Settlement does not mean that Defendants broke any laws and/or did anything wrong, and the Court did not decide which side was right. The Settlement here has been preliminarily approved by the Court, which authorized the issuance of the Notice. Plaintiffs and the lawyers representing them believe that the Settlement is in the best interests of the Class.
The essential terms of the Settlement are summarized in the Notice. The Settlement Agreement sets forth in greater detail the rights and obligations of the parties. If there is any conflict between the Notice and the Settlement Agreement, the Settlement Agreement governs.
WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT?
How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?
You are part of the Settlement Class if you reside in the United States and received, a telephone call on a cellular telephone using a prerecorded or artificial voice message from March 9, 2011 until October 29, 2021 from the defendant concerning the items listed in FAQ 3 above.
I’m still not sure if I’m included in the Settlement.
If you think you are a member of the Settlement Class but did not receive a notice, you may contact the Settlement Administrator by email at email@example.com or by mail at:
Nation Grid TCPA Settlement
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or call (855) 784-1955.
THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS--WHAT YOU GET AND HOW TO GET IT
What does the Settlement provide?
If the Settlement is approved and becomes final, National Grid will pay thirty-eight million five-hundred thousand dollars ($38,500,000.00) into a settlement fund. This money will be used to: (1) make settlement payments to Settlement Class Members, as described in Question 7; (2) pay the costs of distributing notice and settlement payment checks to Settlement Class Members and other costs of administering the Settlement; and (3) pay court-awarded attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses of the attorneys appointed by the Court to represent the Class (“Class Counsel”) and any service awards granted to the Plaintiffs.
If you are a Settlement Class Member, you need to complete and submit a Claim Form to receive a settlement payment.
In addition to the settlement payments, if the Settlement is approved and becomes final, National Grid will revise and institute certain changes to the outbound calling policies and practices of its Credit and Collections department and Consumer Advocacy Group, including to end the use of prerecorded or artificial voice telephone calls to persons who do not consent to receive those calls to a cellular telephone. A list of those changes and new policies and procedures is listed in the Settlement Agreement at Sections 4.06 and 4.07, which is available on the Important Documents page of this website.
Settlement Class Members’ payment amounts will be shared equally among all Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms, after the deduction of settlement costs and attorneys’ fees and expenses awarded by the Court. It is estimated by Class Counsel that settlement payments will range between $50 and $150 per Settlement Class Member, although the actual amount could be higher or lower.
What am I giving up in exchange for the Settlement benefits?
If you are in the Settlement Class definition and do not exclude yourself from the Settlement, and the Settlement is approved and becomes final, the Settlement will be legally binding on you. In exchange for the opportunity to obtain settlement benefits, you will release all claims against National Grid and its affiliates about the issues in this Lawsuit regarding National Grid’s and its vendors’ and debt collectors’ calls or attempted calls to your cellular telephone numbers concerning: (1) the payment or status of a current or past National Grid Utility Account or bill; (2) an “important matter” concerning a current or past National Grid Utility Account or bill; (3) a disconnect notice concerning a current or past National Grid Utility Account; (4) an invitation from National Grid to attend a Customer Assistance Expo or to meet with or speak to the National Grid Consumer Advocacy Group, National Grid Consumer Advocate, or National Grid Credit Department; or (5) the availability of a government assistance program, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), to assist with payments to National Grid. You also covenant and agree that you will not take any step whatsoever to commence, institute, continue, pursue, maintain, or prosecute any claims about the issues in this Lawsuit against National Grid and its affiliates.
This release may affect your rights. To view the full terms of the release that are contained in the Settlement Agreement at Section 13.01, please click HERE.
EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT
If I exclude myself, can I get a monetary payment from this Settlement?
No. If you exclude yourself, you are not part of the Settlement.
If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the Defendants for the same thing later?
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Defendants for the claims that this Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, you should speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit.
How do I exclude myself from the Settlement?
To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must mail a written request for exclusion to:
Class Action Opt Outs
Attn: National Grid
PO Box 58220
Philadelphia, PA 19102
To be effective, your request for exclusion must be postmarked no later than May 22, 2022 and must include the following information:
(a) your full name, telephone number, and mailing address;
(b) a statement that you wish to be excluded from the Settlement Class in as Jenkins v. National Grid USA Service Company, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-01219-JS-ARL (E.D.N.Y.); and (c) your signature and the date.
THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
Do I have a lawyer in the case?
Yes. The Court has appointed the following attorneys and law firms to represent the Settlement Class Members. Together, these lawyers are called “Class Counsel”:
Joseph S. Tusa
P.O. Box 566
55000 Main Rd, 2nd Fl
Southold, NY 11971
Jonathan D. Selbin
Douglas I. Cuthbertson
John T. Nicolaou
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
250 Hudson St, 8th Fl
New York, NY 10013-1413
Daniel M. Hutchinson
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
275 Battery St, 29th Fl
San Francisco, CA 94111-3339
You do not have to pay Class Counsel for their time or expenses incurred in this Lawsuit out of your pocket. Instead, Class Counsel will petition the Court for an award of their fees and expenses; any amount awarded will be paid from the Settlement Fund.
The Court has also appointed Plaintiffs Jarrett Jenkins, Emmot Steele, Frances Royal, Danai Ewan, Charmaine Whyte, and Kristin MacKenzie as class representatives to represent the Settlement Class.
How will the lawyers and Class Representative be paid?
Class Counsel have not been paid anything for their representation of the Settlement Class to date. They have paid expenses for the litigation out of their own pockets. If they were to lose the case, they would be paid nothing.
In connection with this Settlement, Class Counsel intend to apply to the Court for payment of attorneys’ fees in an amount not to exceed one-third of the total Settlement Amount. The Court will evaluate whether this request for fees and expenses is reasonable in light of Class Counsel’s skill and the risk they undertook in bringing the lawsuit. The Court may award less.
Class Counsel also will seek Settlement Class service awards that do not exceed $60,000 in the aggregate (or up to $10,000 each) to compensate them for their efforts and commitment on behalf of the Settlement Class in this Lawsuit.
If awarded by the Court, all of these amounts will be paid from the settlement fund.
OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT
How could I tell the Court if I don’t like the Settlement?
If you are a Settlement Class Member, and have not excluded yourself from the Settlement, you can comment on or object to the Settlement, Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses, and/or the request for service awards for the individual plaintiffs. To object or comment, you must send a written objection/comment including the following:
(a) the name and case number of this lawsuit: as Jenkins v. National Grid USA Service Company, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-01219-JS-ARL (E.D.N.Y.);
(b) your full name, mailing address and telephone number;
(c) an explanation of why you claim to be a Settlement Class Member, including the cellular telephone numbers called by Defendants or their debt collection agents or vendors;
(d) an explanation of the basis for your objection, including all grounds for the objection and any legal support;
(e) the identity of any attorney representing you in this matter, or any attorney who may be entitled to compensation for any reason related to the objection;
(f) a statement about whether or not you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, and if so, the identify of all counsel representing you who will appear at the Final Approval Hearing (who must enter a written Notice of Appearance of Counsel with the Clerk of the Court);
(g) a list of all other class action settlements to which you or your attorney has previously filed an objection;
(h) a list of any persons who will be called to testify at the Final Approval Hearing in support of the objection; and
(i) your signature (your attorney’s signature is not sufficient);
To be considered by the Court, your comment or objection must be filed or mailed to the Clerk of Court, with copies to National Grid’s counsel, and Class Counsel, filed/postmarked no later than,May 22, 2022 at the following addresses:
THE COURT NATIONAL GRID’S COUNSEL CLASS COUNSEL Clerk of the Court
USDC for the Eastern District of New York
100 Federal Plaza
Central Islip, NY, 11722
Richard H. Brown
Day Pitney LLP
One Jefferson Road
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Joseph S. Tusa
P.O. Box 566
55000 Main Road, 2nd Fl
Southold, NY 11971
Douglas I. Cuthbertson
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
250 Hudson St, 8th Fl
New York, NY 10013
Your objection must be submitted to the Settlement Administrator with a postmark on or before May 22, 2022 and filed with the Court on or before May 22, 2022.
Any member of the Settlement Class who does not submit an objection in the time and manner described above will not be permitted to raise that objection later.
What’s the difference between objecting and excluding?
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you believe the Settlement is not fair, adequate, or reasonable. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the litigation no longer affects you.
THE COURT'S FAIRNESS HEARING
When and where will the Court decide whether to grant final approval of the Settlement?
There will be a Final Approval Hearing to consider approval of the proposed settlement on June 24, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 100 Federal Plaza, Central Islip, NY 11722, Courtroom 1030. The hearing may be postponed to a later date without further notice and may occur via remote means such a teleconference or zoom. Settlement Class Members should check this website regularly for any changes to this date or method of attending. At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will, among other things: (a) determine whether the Settlement should be finally approved by the Court as fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class; (b) determine whether judgment should be entered pursuant to the Settlement, dismissing this Action with prejudice and releasing all Released Claims; (c) determine whether the Settlement Class should be finally certified; (d) rule on Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees, expenses, and service awards; (e) consider any properly filed objections; and (f) consider any other matters necessary in connection with the final approval of the Settlement.
You do not need to appear at the hearing. You will be represented at the Final Approval Hearing by Class Counsel, unless you choose to enter an appearance in person or through your own counsel. The appearance of your own attorney is not necessary to participate in the hearing.
Do I have to come to the hearing?
No. Class Counsel will represent the Settlement Class at the Final Approval Hearing, but you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send any objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it, but you may if you wish. As long as you timely submitted your written objection, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, if you wish.
May I speak at the hearing?
You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must send with your objection, a notice of intention to appear at the hearing as described in Paragraph 15 of the Notice. You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself.
GETTING MORE INFORMATION
Are there more details about the Settlement?
The Notice summarizes the Settlement. For a more detailed statement of the matters involved in the litigation or the Settlement, you may refer to the papers filed in this case during regular business hours at the office of the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 100 Federal Plaza, Central Islip, NY 11722. The full Settlement Agreement and certain pleadings filed in the case are also available on the Important Documents page of this website or can be requested, in writing from the Settlement Administrator.
If you wanted to keep the right to sue or continue to sue Defendants over the legal issues in the lawsuit, then you must have taken steps to remove yourself from this Settlement. This is called asking to be excluded from the Class, also referred to as “opting-out” of the Class.
You had the option of telling the Court you don’t agree with the Settlement or some part of it.