This is why you "Don't sign up for a class action suit. It's rediculous. This is self explanitory as to where and by whom this was published. I think the best part is the quote from Monica linder. It will make everyone feel good knowing that they instituted, (cleaned up their act), TWO YEARS AGO, sot hey have been good totheir customer ever since, no lieing or cheating. Those that care write the judge, or the reporter that published this.
The Post & Courier
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The Post and Courier/FILE
Charleston County Circuit Court Judge Perry M. Buckner III Monday approved a $6 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving JK Harris.
A judge has approved a $6 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving a high-profile North Charleston company, saying the proposed amount is as much as the business can afford to pay without possibly going bankrupt.
Charleston County Circuit Court Judge Perry M. Buckner III signed the order late Friday granting approval of the proposed settlement in the class-action suit against JK Harris & Co.
The lawsuit was sparked by consumer complaints about JK Harris heavily advertised tax-resolution services, which make use of an IRS program known as offer in compromise. Under that program, taxpayers with substantial back tax bills can make an offer to pay less than the amount owed, which the IRS may or may not accept.
The plaintiffs had claimed that JK Harris charged them upfront for help resolving their back-tax cases, then failed to deliver the promised help. JK Harris denied those allegations but agreed in April to settle the case to avoid the cost and distraction of litigating class actions in multiple venues, the company said in a statement at the time.
In his order Friday, Buckner noted that South Carolina court rules require that the judge in a civil suit must assure that the settlement represents adequate compensation for the release of the class claims and must decide whether the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable.
Buckner ruled that the proposed $6 million payout is fair and reasonable based upon defendant financial status, including its considerable debt, a finding that he said was supported by testimony from Roy Strickland, a forensic accountant hired by the plaintiffs to examine JK Harris books.
In addition, Buckner wrote, the settlement is adequate in the sense that the settlement fund is the most defendant can afford to pay without possible bankruptcy. Should defendant enter bankruptcy, collecting on even an individual judgment is in doubt.
Monica Linder, vice president of JK Harris legal affairs department, issued a statement Monday saying that the company is confident in the condition of our finances and does not foresee any difficulties in fulfilling the terms of the settlement.
The settlement also specifies 16 business practices the company has agreed to modify, mainly related to advertising and billing procedures. Linder said, it cannot be stressed enough that there will be no negative impact on the companys revenue, as the stipulations outlined in the settlement were implemented more than two years ago.
How much of a liability the case might have represented had it not been settled is suggested by figures in a document filed last month by plaintiffs attorneys seeking payment of fees and expenses.
That filing argued that the lawyers were entitled to the payment in part because the costs associated (with) litigating a low dollar claim that averages between $1,500 and $2,500 can be prohibitive for most class members.
If those figures represent the actual average claim against JK Harris, then the total liability the company faced if it had been forced to pay all claims in full from the nearly 68,000 potential class members would have amounted to between $101 million and $169 million.
Under the approved settlement, JK Harris isnt required to make the full $6 million available immediately. Instead, the agreement calls for it to pay $500,000 into a fund this year and make increasing monthly payments starting in April 2008. The companys payments into the fund are expected to total $6 million in September 2011.
Reach Michael Buettner at email@example.com or 937-5553.