Etzel v. Hooters of America, LLC Settlement Website

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is there a notice?
  2. What is this lawsuit about?
  3. Why is this a class action?
  4. Why is there a settlement?
  5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?
  6. What does the settlement provide?
  7. What can I get from the settlement?
  8. Will I receive a $20 or $50 Gift Card?
  9. How do I get a payment?
  10. When will I receive my Gift Card?
  11. What am I giving up to stay in the Settlement Class?
  12. How do I exclude myself from the settlement?
  13. If I exclude myself, can I still get a Gift Card or the Benefit of the Injunction?
  14. Do I have a lawyer in the case?
  15. How will the lawyers be paid?
  16. How do I tell the Court that I don’t like the settlement?
  17. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself?
  18. When and where will the Court decide to approve the settlement?
  19. Do I have to come to the hearing?
  20. What happens if I do nothing?
  21. How do I get more information?
  1. Why is there a notice?

    A Court authorized the notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement in a lawsuit against Hooters of America, LLC (“HOA”), and all of your options, before the Court decides whether to give final approval to the settlement. The notice explains the nature of the lawsuit, the general terms of the settlement, and your legal rights and options.

    The lawsuit was brought on behalf of persons who received a text message from HOA on January 28, 2015, but who claim that the message was sent via an autodialer and he/she did not consent to receiving the message. The text message came from Short Code 877-67 and read as follows: "Hooters Fans:  Our mClub has moved!  Don’t worry, you’ll still receive exclusive news, just from a new number.  Reply STOP to unsubscribe.  Msg&Data rates may apply.“  (This text message is referred to on this website and in the documents herein as the “Text Message”).

    Judge Leigh Martin May of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is overseeing this litigation. The litigation is known as Michael Etzel v. Hooters of America, LLC, Case No. 1:15-cv-01055-LMM. One of the persons who received the text, Mike Etzel, sued Hooters and is called the “Plaintiff.” Hooters is called the “Defendant.”

    

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  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    On January 28, 2015, HOA sent the Text Message to the Plaintiff and many other recipients.  Plaintiff contends that he and many other recipients had informed HOA before January 28, 2015, not to send any future text messages. The Plaintiff contends that a federal statute, known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) 47 USCS § 227, prohibited HOA from sending the Text Message to these recipients. HOA denies any wrongdoing, and no court or other judicial entity has made any judgment or other determination of any wrongdoing.  Nonetheless, to avoid the further costs of litigation, HOA has agreed to settle. 

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  3. Why is this a class action?

    In a class action, one or more people called “class representatives” sue on behalf of themselves and other people with similar claims. All of these people together are the “class” or “class members.” One court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the settlement class.

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  4. Why is there a settlement?

    The Court has not decided in favor of Plaintiff or HOA. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. Settlements avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial and related appeals, while providing benefits to members of the settlement class (“Settlement Class Members”). The “Settlement Class Representative” appointed to represent the class, and the attorneys for the Settlement Class (“Settlement Class Counsel,” see Frequently Asked Question #14) think the settlement is best for all Settlement Class Members.

    

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  5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?

    You are a member of the Settlement Class if you received the Text Message and the records from HOA’s vendors shows that you had withdrawn or failed to reaffirm your consent to receive messages from HOA’s mClub program.  Class Counsel acquired information from the vendors administering HOA’s mClub programs to locate the telephone numbers that fall into these two categories.  The person who owned the telephone number on January 28, 2015 when the Text Message was sent is a Class Member.

    Alternatively, if you are not sure whether you are included in the Settlement Class, call 1-888-334-1086.

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  6. What does the settlement provide?

    HOA has agreed to provide Gift Cards ($20 or 50) to eligible Settlement Class Members that can be redeemed at Hooters locations, subject to HOA’s rules for Gift Cards (see Frequently Asked Question #8). The Gift Cards will be delivered to Class Members via email, at the email address provided on the Claim Form. HOA has also agreed to pay attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses (see Frequently Asked Question #15) and the costs of notifying the class and administering the settlement. HOA will also pay a Service Award to the Class Representative.

    In addition, HOA will be prohibited from sending text messages to a class member’s specified cell phone number in the future unless such individuals provide express written consent after the entry of the settlement.

    A more detailed description of these changes is available in the Settlement Agreement which is available here

    

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  7. What can I get from the settlement?

    Gift Card: A $1.29 million Settlement Fund will pay for gift cards (up to $20 or $50) to class members who submit a timely claim form. Gift Cards are transferable, redeemable at all Hooters restaurants for any items or combination of items (other than alcohol), do not require any purchase for their activation, and have no expiration date. You must submit a claim form to receive the Gift Card.

    Injunction: Regardless of whether you submit a claim for a gift card, HOA will be prohibited from sending any future text messages to a Class Member’s specified cell phone unless the Class Member provides express written consent after the entry of the settlement.

    

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  8. Will I receive a $20 or $50 Gift Card?

    The Settlement Class has two levels of members. 

    “Tier One” Class Members will receive a $50 Gift Card.  Tier One Class Members are recipients that sent a message to HOA such as “STOP” and still received the Text Message.

    "Tier Two" Class Members are recipients that did not inform HOA after October 16, 2013 (when a text message was sent asking them to reaffirm their prior consent) that they wanted to receive further messages from HOA.  They will receive a $20 Gift Card (which may be decreased slightly, if the number of claims exceeds the available funds for Tier Two payouts). 

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  9. How do I get a payment?

    The Claims Filing Deadline of December 20, 2017 has passed. It is too late to submit a Claim Form to receive a Gift Card.

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  10. When will I receive my Gift Card?

    Gift Cards have been sent to Class Members who filed valid and timely claims on April 11, 2018. Gift Cards were sent by Cashstar via email from the email address hooters@cashstar.com. If you filed a claim and did not recieve your Gift Card, be sure to check your SPAM filter. If you are still unable to locate your Gift Card, you may contact Cashstar for assistance. 

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  11. What am I giving up to stay in the Settlement Class?

    Unless you exclude yourself from the settlement, you will give up your right to sue HOA and its affiliates/vendors or be part of any other lawsuit against HOA and its affiliates/vendors about the issues this settlement resolves. Unless you exclude yourself, all of the Court’s decisions will bind you. The specific claims you are giving up against HOA and other released parties affiliated with HOA are called “Claims”. The Claims are described in the Settlement Agreement which is available here. The Settlement Agreement describes the Claims you would be releasing with specific and accurate legal descriptions, so read it carefully.

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  12. How do I exclude myself from the settlement?

    The exclusion filing deadline of November 20, 2017 has passed. It is too late to request exclusion from the Settlement.

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  13. If I exclude myself, can I still get a Gift Card or the Benefit of the Injunction?

    No. If you exclude yourself, you cannot receive the Gift Card or the benefit of the Injunction.

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  14. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

    Yes. The Court appointed the following attorneys to represent you and other Settlement Class Members as “Settlement Class Counsel.”


    W. Pitts Carr
    Alex D. Weatherby
    Carr & Wetherby, LLP
    4200 Northside Parkway NW
    Building 10
    Atlanta, Georgia 30327

    Nicholas P. Panayotopoulos
    Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial, LLC
    Dan Litvin
    3344 Peachtree Road
    Suite 2400
    Atlanta, Georgia 30326

    David Ghattas
    Law Office of David Ghattas
    1265 Seven Springs Circle
    Hilliard & Shadowen LLP
    Marietta, Georgia 30068

    You will not be charged by these lawyers for their work on the case. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

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  15. How will the lawyers be paid?

    The Court has awarded Settlement Class Counsel attorneys’ fees and expenses. These fees and costs have been paid separately by HOA and do not reduce the amount of benefits provided to the Class.

    

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  16. How do I tell the Court that I don’t like the settlement?

    The objection deadline of November 20, 2017 has passed and the Court has approved the Settlement. It is too late to file an objection to the Settlement.

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  17. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself?

    Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the settlement, but you remain a member of the Settlement Class.

    Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be included in the settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object to the settlement and related releases because the settlement no longer affects you.

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  18. When and where will the Court decide to approve the settlement?

    The Court held a Final Approval Hearing on February 2, 2018. The Court approved the Settlement at the Final Approval Hearing.

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  19. Do I have to come to the hearing?

    No. Settlement Class Counsel will answer questions the Court may have. However, you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you submit a written objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you submitted your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.

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  20. What happens if I do nothing?

    If you are a Settlement Class Member and do nothing, then you will not receive a Gift Card and your claims against HOA and its affiliates will be released. This means that you will not be able to start a lawsuit or be part of another lawsuit against HOA or its affiliates over the claims resolved by the settlement. You will receive the benefit of the injunction.

    

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  21. How do I get more information?

    The notice summarizes the settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement itself. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement here or from the Settlement Administrator by calling toll-free 1-888-334-1086 or writing to Settlement Administrator at PO Box 404000, Louisville, KY 40233-4000. The status of the settlement, any appeals, any claims made, and the date of payments will be posted on this Settlement Website.

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