Notice of Intent to File Lawsuit to Collect Debt DATE OF NOTICE 3 12 2010 Superior Court of the by kfn61992

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									                                       DATE OF NOTICE: 3/12/2010
              Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego
                      NOTICE OF PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
  IF YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE WAS REPOSSESSED OR YOU VOLUNTARILY SURRENDERED
YOUR VEHICLE, YOU RECEIVED A “NOTICE OF INTENT” TO DISPOSE OF THE VEHICLE FROM
 AMERICAN HONDA FINANCE CORP., YOUR VEHICLE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY SOLD, AND A
DEFICIENCY BALANCE WAS ASSESSED AGAINST YOU, THIS NOTICE CONTAINS IMPORTANT
                     INFORMATION THAT MAY AFFECT YOU
                        -PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY-
                      A court ordered this notice. It is not a solicitation from a lawyer,
                                        and you are not being sued.
This notice summarizes the terms of a proposed class action settlement (the “Settlement”). This notice also
describes how you may obtain more information about the Settlement and how you may, if you wish, object
to the Settlement or request to be excluded from the Settlement Class. NO ACTION IS NECESSARY IF
YOU WISH TO REMAIN IN THE SETTLEMENT CLASS AND RECEIVE THE BENEFITS OF
THE SETTLEMENT.

                       Basic Information – Why Did I Receive This Notice?
The Court sent you this notice because you have a right to know about the proposed settlement of a class
action, and about your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement. If the Court
approves the Settlement, and after any objections and appeals are resolved, the appointed settlement
administrator will make the payments that the Settlement allows.
This notice explains the class action, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, and who is
eligible for them.

                                         What Is A Class Action?
In a class action, one or more people, called Class Representatives, sue on behalf of a group of people who
have similar claims, called “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except
for those who expressly exclude themselves or “opt-out” from the Settlement. In this action, the Class
Representatives are Celina Dawson, Aaron Chavez, and Dionicio Pilar.

                                     What Is This Lawsuit About?
On March 26, 2009, Celina Dawson filed a lawsuit against American Honda Finance Corp. (“AHFC”) in the
Superior Court for the County of Alameda, Civil Case No. RG-09-443611. On April 10, 2009, Aaron
Chavez and Dionicio Pilar filed a similar lawsuit against AHFC in the Superior Court for the County of
San Diego,
Civil Case No. 37-2009-00087420-CU-BT-CTL. Those two suits were coordinated in the Superior Court for
the County of San Diego, and this coordinated action, which is the subject of this notice, is known as the
Honda Auto Finance Cases, Case No. JCCP 4596 (the "Action").
In the Action, the Class Representatives (Dawson, Chavez, and Pilar) have alleged that AHFC’s Notices of
Intent to dispose of a motor vehicle after repossession or voluntary surrender of the vehicle, which AHFC
sent between March 26, 2005 and November 18, 2009, were defective because the Notice of Intent (“NOI”)
letters failed to properly inform defaulting customers of the specific conditions that they were required to
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satisfy to reinstate or redeem their purchase contract. The Class Representatives have alleged that AHFC is
not entitled to collect any Deficiency Balances—the amount remaining on the buyer’s contract when the
vehicle was sold after being repossessed or voluntarily surrendered as well as any additional charges or
fees—because the Notice of Intent to dispose of the vehicle allegedly did not comply with California law.
The Class Representatives have brought claims for declaratory relief, breach of contract, and violation of
California’s Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act (Civil Code § 2981 et seq.), the Unfair
Competition Law (Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.); and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections
Practices Act (Civil Code § 1788 et seq.).

                                     Why Is There A Settlement?
AHFC believes that its Notice of Intent complied with California law and that it has acted lawfully and
properly. Plaintiffs believe that the above claims have merit and that the lawsuit provides consumers a much
needed remedy. The Court in charge of the lawsuit, the Superior Court of the State of California in and for
the County of San Diego, has not decided who is right or wrong. Instead, both sides have agreed to settle
their dispute, and the Court has preliminarily agreed that the Settlement as proposed falls within the range of
a reasonable and possible Court approved settlement. The Court's determination is not an expression of any
opinion as to the merits of the claims against AHFC. AHFC believes that its Notices of Intent complied with
California law and that it has acted lawfully and properly, but it has agreed to settle the Action to avoid the
burden and expense of further litigation. The Settlement is a compromise. It is not, and should not be
construed as, evidence of AHFC’s admission or concession of any fault, wrongdoing or liability whatsoever.

                                Who Is A Settlement Class Member?

You have been sent this notice because AHFC’s records indicate you are a Settlement Class member.
“Settlement Class” means all persons satisfying each of the following six criteria and who are identified as
Identified Settlement Class Members pursuant to an electronic search of AHFC’s records:
        (1) an individual who purchased a motor vehicle (as defined in California Civil Code § 2981) and, as
            part of that transaction, entered into an agreement subject to the notice of intent provisions of
            California’s Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act, Civil Code § 2981, et seq.;
        (2) whose contract was assigned to AHFC;
        (3) whose motor vehicle was repossessed or voluntarily surrendered;
        (4) who, following said repossession or voluntary surrender, was issued an NOI by AHFC during the
            period from March 26, 2005 to November 18, 2009;
        (5) against whose account a Deficiency Balance was assessed following issuance of said NOI and
            disposition of the motor vehicle; and
        (6) where the Deficiency Balance was not discharged in bankruptcy.

Under the terms of the Settlement, you are a member of the Settlement Class if all of the following apply to
you, and the Court orders final approval of the Settlement:
         •   You purchased a motor vehicle (as defined in California Civil Code § 2981) and, as part of that
             transaction, entered into an agreement subject to the Notice of Intent provisions of California’s
             Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act; and
         •   Your contract was assigned to AHFC; and
         •   Your motor vehicle was repossessed or voluntarily surrendered; and
         •   Following that repossession or voluntary surrender, AHFC sent you a Notice of Intent to
             dispose of the motor vehicle between March 26, 2005 and November 18, 2009; and
         •   A Deficiency Balance was assessed against you following the disposition of the motor vehicle;
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             and
         •   The Deficiency Balance was not discharged in bankruptcy; and
         •   AHFC’s database of Customer Account information reflects that you (a) purchased the motor
             vehicle in California or have a current address in California; (b) you financed the motor vehicle
             purchase with a retail installment sales contract that was assigned to AHFC; (c) the motor
             vehicle was repossessed or voluntarily surrendered; (d) following said repossession or voluntary
             surrender, AHFC issued to you a notice of intent to dispose of the motor vehicle during the
             period from March 26, 2005 to November 18, 2009; (e) a Deficiency Balance was assessed
             against you following issuance of said Notice Of Intent and disposition of the motor vehicle;
             and (f) the Deficiency Balance was not discharged in bankruptcy.

                        The Settlement Benefits – What You May Receive
If the Court gives final approval to the Settlement, all Settlement Class members (except those who timely
and properly request to be excluded from the Settlement) will receive the non-monetary benefits described
below. Some Settlement Class members will also be eligible to receive certain monetary benefits described
below. If the Court does not approve the Settlement, then the Settlement Class members will not receive any
of the Settlement’s benefits and the parties may return to Court for a trial. The parties have made their best
efforts to negotiate a settlement that is fair and reasonable under the circumstances.
Non-monetary benefits. Under the terms of the Settlement, AHFC agrees to provide the following relief to
all Settlement Class members who do not properly and timely request to be excluded from the Settlement
Class:

   1. AHFC shall agree that these Settlement Class members do not owe and have no obligation to pay any
      outstanding Deficiency Balances on the accounts for which those Settlement Class members received
      a Notice of Intent (“Accounts”). In other words, you will owe nothing further on the account;
   2. AHFC shall change its internal records of the Accounts for these Settlement Class members to reflect
      a zero balance;
   3. AHFC shall take all steps necessary to cease all efforts to collect the Deficiency Balances from these
      Settlement Class members. This includes but is not limited to recalling and/or repurchasing these
      Accounts from internal collection departments and from outside collection agencies, recalling all
      such Accounts that have been assigned to legal counsel, and dismissing all pending legal actions to
      collect a Deficiency Balance for any such Account. In other words, there will be no further collection
      of the Deficiency Balance;
   4. AHFC shall respond to any inquiries from these Settlement Class members regarding their Accounts
      by informing them that their Account balance is zero, that the Deficiency Balance is not owed, and
      that the Settlement Class members has no obligation to pay the Deficiency Balance;
   5.   AHFC shall submit requests to Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian to delete the entire AHFC
        tradeline on the credit reports for these Settlement Class members. If at any time following the
        submission of such requests, one of these Settlement Class members notifies AHFC or its counsel
        that this information has not been deleted from his or her credit report, AHFC will electronically
        update each such credit bureau that continues to report said information, instructing the credit bureau
        to delete it from the Settlement Class member’s credit history, and will mail a copy of that
        communication to the Settlement Class member within 10 days of AHFC’s receipt of the notice of
        the problem with the credit report;
   6. AHFC shall file a Satisfaction of Judgment form in every action in which it has obtained a judgment
      against any of these Settlement Class members.
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Monetary benefits. Under the terms of the Settlement, AHFC has agreed to a Settlement Fund of $7,000,000
plus seventy-four percent (74%) of the total collected by AHFC between September 25, 2009, and February
10, 2010 on Deficiency Balances assessed against any Identified Settlement Class Member. If you are a
Settlement Class member who paid all or some of a Deficiency Balance after the repossession or voluntary
surrender and sale of your vehicle, and do not opt-out of the Settlement, then you are a Refund Eligible Class
Member. Refund Eligible Class Members will receive the non-monetary benefits described above and, in
addition, will receive a proportional refund of a portion of the amount actually paid to AHFC toward a
Deficiency Balance. To the extent that any amount of the Settlement Fund remains after all such payments
are made, it shall be dedicated to a cy pres fund, subject to Court approval.
Service Awards and Attorneys’ Fees. Class Counsel and AHFC have agreed that the Class Representatives
may apply for service awards, subject to Court approval, of up to $5,000 for each of the three Class
Representatives, for a total award of up to $15,000. Class Counsel and AHFC have also agreed that Class
Counsel may seek up to $950,000 in attorneys’ fees. If approved by the Court, AHFC will pay any service
award and attorneys’ fees separately from the benefits to Settlement Class members. These payments will
not reduce or increase the amount in the Settlement Fund.

                         The Settlement Release – What You Will Give Up

If the settlement receives final approval from the Court and you do not opt out, in exchange for the benefits
described herein, you will release all claims, known or unknown, as follows:
Upon the Effective Date, the Class Representatives, the Settlement Class (aside from those who timely and
properly opt-out of the Settlement Class), and each of their respective successors-in-interest, heirs, executors,
administrators, representatives, employees, directors, agents and all other persons claiming an interest
through them (collectively the “Releasing Parties”) will be deemed to have fully released and forever
discharged AHFC and its parents, affiliates, predecessors, successors, vendors, suppliers, attorneys, insurers
and employees from any and all claims, actions, causes of action or liabilities, whether by contract, statute,
common law, or equity, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, asserted or unasserted,
foreseen or unforeseen, actual or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, as of the Effective Date defined in
the Settlement Agreement: (1) that arise out of or are related in any way to any or all of the acts, omissions,
facts, matters, transactions, or occurrences that were or could have been alleged in the Actions based upon
the facts alleged in the complaint in the Actions (including but not limited to claims for violations of the
Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act, California Civil Code § 2981, et seq., violations of California
Business & Professions Code § 17200, et seq., breach of contract, violation of California Civil Code § 1788,
et seq., and declaratory relief); or (2) that arise out of or are related in any way to alleged deficiencies or
inadequacies in form or content in the NOIs issued by AHFC (including but not limited to claims for
violations of the Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act, California Civil Code § 2981, et seq.,
California Civil Code § 1632, violations of California Business & Professions Code § 17200, et seq., breach
of contract, violation of California Civil Code § 1788, et seq., and declaratory relief). The releases identified
in this paragraph shall be referred to as the Released Claims, and the individuals and entities released shall be
referred to as the Released Parties.
The Released Claims include claims the Releasing Parties do not know or suspect to exist in their favor at the
time of this Settlement Agreement. The foregoing releases constitute a waiver of, without limitation as to
any other applicable law, Section 1542 of the California Civil Code, which provides:
       A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE CREDITOR
       DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME
       OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER MUST HAVE
       MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR.

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The Releasing Parties understand and acknowledge the significance of these waivers of California Civil
Code § 1542 and/or of any other applicable law relating to limitations on releases. In connection with such
waivers and relinquishment, the Releasing Parties acknowledge that they are aware that they may hereafter
discover facts in addition to, or different from, those facts which they now know or believe to be true with
respect to the subject matter of the settlement, but that it is their intention to release fully, finally and forever
all Released Claims, and in furtherance of such intention, the release of the Released Claims will be and
remain in effect notwithstanding the discovery or existence of any such additional or different facts.
This release may prevent you from asserting other claims against AHFC. If you have any claims or potential
claims against AHFC, you should seek independent legal advice as to whether you should request exclusion
from this settlement.
Upon final Court approval of the Settlement, a judgment will be entered dismissing with prejudice and fully
and finally settling the Action as to all Settlement Class members, except those who properly and timely
request exclusion from the Settlement Class, if permitted, in the manner described below.

                                          Your Rights – Exclusion
If you fall within the definition of the Settlement Class described above, you will remain a member of the
Settlement Class unless you request to be excluded.
IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN A MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS AND RECEIVE ANY
BENEFIT TO WHICH YOU MAYBE ENTITLED, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING. THERE
IS NO NEED FOR YOU TO CALL, WRITE OR SEND ANYTHING IN ORDER TO REMAIN A
MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS.
If you remain in the Settlement Class and the Court gives final approval to the Settlement, you will receive
the non-monetary benefits described above. If you are a Settlement Class member eligible for a refund, you
may also be entitled to receive the monetary benefits described above. You may exclude yourself, or “opt
out,” of the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself, you will not receive any benefits of the Settlement,
but you will not be bound by any judgment or release in the Action and will keep your right to sue AHFC on
your own if you want. If you seek to be excluded, you may not object to the Settlement.
To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must send a written request for exclusion to the following
address:
                                           Honda Auto Finance Cases
                                            Settlement Administrator
                                             c/o Gilardi & Co. LLC
                                                  P.O. Box 8090
                                           San Rafael, CA 94912-8090
You must mail your request for exclusion via First Class Mail and it must be postmarked no later than May
11, 2010. Your request for exclusion must contain all of the following to be accepted:
    1. The name of the Action: “Honda Auto Finance Cases, San Diego County Superior Court, JCCP No.
       4596”;
    2. Your full name and current address;
    3. A statement of your intent to exclude yourself; and
    4. Your signature and the date of your signature.

REQUESTS FOR EXCLUSION THAT ARE NOT POSTMARKED ON OR BEFORE MAY 11, 2010
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WILL NOT BE HONORED. Requests for exclusion sent to any location other than that listed above or that
do not include all required information also will not be honored. If your properly completed request is
postmarked by May 11, 2010, the Court will exclude you from the Settlement Class.

                            Your Rights – Objection to the Settlement
If you do not request to be excluded, you may object to the Settlement. You may not do both. To object to
the Settlement, you must send your objection (the reasons the Court should not approve the Settlement) to
the following address:
                                        Honda Auto Finance Cases
                                         Settlement Administrator
                                          c/o Gilardi & Co. LLC
                                               P.O. Box 8090
                                        San Rafael, CA 94912-8090
You must mail your objection via First Class Mail and it must be postmarked no later than May 11, 2010.
Your objection must contain all of the following to be accepted:
           1. The name of the Action: “Honda Auto Finance Cases, San Diego County Superior Court
              JCCP No. 4596”;
           2. Your full name and current address;
           3. A clear statement of each objection;
           4. All supporting evidence and briefing you wish to have considered in support of the objection;
              and
           5. Your signature and the date of your signature.
Any member of the Settlement Class who does not make his or her objections by sending a written objection
in the manner provided for herein shall be deemed to have waived such objections and shall forever be
foreclosed from making any objections to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement and the
judgment approving the Settlement.

Objectors are not required to attend the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will consider your views as
expressed in your written objection. If you do intend to appear or have your separate attorney appear, you
must:
   1. Send a written objection in the manner outlined above and, in your written objection, include the
      statement, “I intend to appear at the hearing.”
   2. File a Notice of Intention to Appear with the Clerk of Court, San Diego County Superior Court, 330
      West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, and serve copies of your Notice of Intention to Appear on
      Class Counsel and AHFC Counsel no later than April 26, 2010;

   3. Include in your Notice of Intention to Appear all of the information in your written objection, as
      outlined above, as well as copies of any papers, exhibits, or other evidence that you or your attorney
      will present to the Court at the Final Approval Hearing; and
   4. Pay any applicable appearance fees the Court requires.

                                      DO NOT CALL THE COURT.



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                                      The Final Approval Hearing
The proposed Settlement must be finally approved by the Court. The Court has set the Final Approval
Hearing for June 25, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. (subject to change by the Court without further notice), in
Department 73 of the San Diego County Superior Court, located at 330 West Broadway, San Diego, CA
92101. At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will determine whether the Settlement should be approved
as fair, reasonable, and adequate, whether certification of the Settlement Class is proper, whether attorneys’
fees and costs should be awarded to Class Counsel and in what amount, whether service awards should be
made to the Class Representatives and in what amount.
Class Counsel will apply to the Court for attorneys’ fees and expenses in an amount up to $950,000 plus
$5,000 service awards for each of the three Class Representatives, to be paid by AHFC separately from the
benefits to Settlement Class members. AHFC has agreed not to oppose this application.
You do not need to hire a lawyer, but you may do so if you want to. You and the Settlement Class members
are already represented by Class Counsel listed below, at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
The Settlement will not take effect unless and until: (1) the Court approves the Settlement at the Final
Approval Hearing and (2) a Final Order and Judgment is entered by the Court and no longer subject to any
appellate challenge. After the Court rules on the final approval and the time to appeal has expired or appeals
are exhausted, the Settlement will become final, and you will receive the class benefits set forth above. If the
Court does not approve the Settlement, Settlement Class members will not receive any benefits described in
this notice. It will be as if no settlement had been reached and no class established.

                                            More Information
This Notice, which the Court has approved, is only a summary. You may contact the Settlement
Administrator for updates regarding the Court hearing dates, at 1-877-345-3715. If you have additional
questions concerning this Action, Notice, or Settlement, you may contact Class Counsel or check the
administrator’s website. Please do not call or write the Court or AHFC for information or advice. Please
note that AHFC employees and telephone representatives are not authorized to provide any information
relating to this Action, Notice, Settlement, or any claims you may have. In order to monitor date changes for
the Final Approval hearing, monitor the plaintiffs’ website, at www.chavezgertler.com, or the administrator’s
website, at www.hondaautofinancecases.com.
The Settlement Agreement, along with records and other papers regarding the Action, are on file with the
Court and are available to be inspected during regular business hours at the Office of the Clerk of Court. The
Clerk of the Court is located at: San Diego County Superior Court, 330 West Broadway, San Diego, CA
92101. Please do not contact the Court or Judge.

Class Counsel:

CHAVEZ & GERTLER LLP                             KEMNITZER, BARRON & KRIEG, LLP
Mark A. Chavez                                   Bryan Kemnitzer
Nance F. Becker                                  Nancy Barron
42 Miller Avenue                                 445 Bush St., 6th Floor
Mill Valley, CA 94941                            San Francisco, CA 94108




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LAW OFFICE OF MICHAEL E. LINDSEY            ROONEY & LICKEL
Michael E. Lindsey                          Clinton Rooney
4455 Morena Blvd., Ste. 207                 1102 Cesar E. Chavez Pkwy.
San Diego, CA 92117-4325                    San Diego, CA 92113

THE HANSON LAW FIRM
John W. Hanson
16870 West Bernardo Drive, Ste. 400
San Diego, CA 92127


Counsel for American Honda Finance Corp.:

KEKER & VAN NEST LLP                        WILSON TURNER KOSMO LLP
Christa M. Anderson                         Vickie Turner
Daniel K. Nazer                             Meryl C. Maneker
Michael E. Gadeberg                         Christian Scott
                                            550 West C Street, Suite 1050
710 Sansome Street
                                            San Diego, CA 92101
San Francisco, CA 94111




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