GEORGE OCHOA, et al. v. 1ST FINANCIAL FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

Cause No. 1922-CC10792 in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why did I get this notice package?

    1. You or someone in your family may have had a consumer loan agreement directly with or that was assigned to Alltru for a loan used to purchase property repossessed and sold by Alltru.

      The Court sent you a short form notice because you should know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit in which you may be a class member, and about all your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves it, and after objections and appeals are resolved, Alltru will cancel debts and try to delete deficiency balance information from credit reports related to the repossessed property. Class members will also receive payments, as described more fully in this package.

      This notice explains in greater detail about the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.

      The Court in charge is the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit Court for St. Louis City, Missouri, and the case is Stuart Radloff, Trustee for The Bankruptcy Estate of Jerome Talamante, and George P. Ochoa v. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Case No. 1922-CC10792.

  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    1. The lawsuit claimed Alltru violated statutory requirements for certain notices sent by Alltru when attempting to collect Class Members’ loans and repossessing and selling their property. You can read the claims in more detail in Plaintiffs Stuart Radloff and George Ochoa’s First Amended Petition in the Important Court Documents section.

  3. Why is this a class action?

    1. In a class action, one or more people called Class Representatives sue for other people with similar claims. All these people with similar claims are a “Class” or “Class Members.” One court and one lawsuit resolve the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class. Circuit Judge Michael Francis Stelzer oversees this class action, and the Class Representatives are George Ochoa and Jessica Baker.

  4. Why is there a settlement?

    1. The parties disagree over who would have won and what Class Representatives or the potential Class would have recovered if they had won. Class Representatives believed they could recover 10% of the principal amount of their loans and the interest charge and other relief. Alltru believed Class Representatives and the Class were entitled to nothing. To resolve the dispute, and because both parties are unsure of what would have happened in a trial, they agreed to a settlement. That way, they avoid the cost of a trial, and the people affected will get money and other benefits. The Class Representatives and the attorneys believe the settlement is fair and equitable for all Class Members.

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

    1. The parties have agreed that the class includes:

      All persons who have or had a loan or finance agreement held by Alltru under which personal property was pledged as collateral who, from July 3, 2013, until June 18, 2018, were mailed a presale notice of intent to sell collateral stating “will or will not, as applicable” or a post-sale notice. Excluded from the class are (i) persons against whom Alltru has obtained a deficiency judgment and (ii) persons who filed for bankruptcy after the date on their presale notice and whose bankruptcy ended in discharge rather than dismissal, unless their bankruptcy trustee employed special litigation counsel to pursue claims against Alltru.

  6. Are there exceptions to being included?

    1. You’re not a Class Member if Alltru has obtained a deficiency judgment against you or you filed for bankruptcy after the date on your presale notice and your bankruptcy ended in discharge rather than dismissal unless your bankruptcy trustee employed special litigation counsel to pursue claims against Alltru.

  7. I’m still not sure if I am included.

    1. If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can ask for free help. You can call 1-800-789-4102 for more information.

  8. What does the settlement provide?

    1. Alltru has agreed to provide the Class with settlement benefits valued over $15,000,000, which includes:

      MONEY
      Alltru has agreed to create a $4,750,000 fund to pay: (a) Class Members; (b) the attorneys’ fees and expenses for representing the Class; and (c) Class Representatives for their service as Class Representatives. This amount is called the “Cash Fund.”

      DEFICIENCY WRITE-OFF
      After the Effective Date (as defined in the Agreement), Alltru will no longer seek to collect any money it claimed you owed after it repossessed property because of its claim you broke promises in your agreement with Alltru. These outstanding amounts are called “Deficiency Balances,” and Alltru has agreed to eliminate these Deficiency Balances and close the accounts connected with them. The value of this benefit to the Class and the Deficiency Balances being eliminated is approximately $6,340,000. This amount is called the “Deficiency Write-Off.”
       
      CREDIT BUREAU REPORTING
      After the Effective Date, Alltru will try to delete deficiency balance information from your credit report with the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—related to the Deficiency Balances.

      IRS PRIVATE LETTER RULING
      If the Court’s independent judicial investigation determines Alltru’s presale and post-sale notices are legally insufficient, Alltru will request a Private Letter Ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) that supports the parties’ belief that the Class Members are not obligated to report any Deficiency Write-Off as income. The IRS may disagree with the parties’ belief and determine that part or all of the Deficiency Write- Off is taxable.

      Class Members are strongly encouraged to consult with a tax professional about any tax effects of any money and other benefits (including the Deficiency Write-Off) received from this settlement. The attorneys in this case cannot provide you with any tax advice, and your receipt of benefits under this settlement might have tax consequences.

  9. What can I get from the settlement?

    1. Every Class Member will receive the benefits from the Cash Fund, Deficiency Write-Off, and credit- reporting relief.

      The payment you receive depends on the money you borrowed and the interest rate on your loan.

  10. How can I get my settlement benefits?

    1. By doing nothing, you will receive the benefits that come from the settlement, including money.

  11. When would I get my settlement benefits?

    1. The Court will hold a hearing on June 6, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.to decide whether to approve the settlement. Even if Judge Stelzer approves the settlement, there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain how an appeal will be resolved and how long it will take. Some appeals take more than a year. Please be patient. You’ll receive your payment if the settlement is approved and after that approval becomes a “final judgment” (i.e. after any appeals are resolved or the time for appealing has passed).

  12. What am I giving up to get settlement benefits or stay in the Class?

    1. Unless you exclude yourself by following the procedure below, you are a part of the Class, and that means you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Alltru about the legal issues involved in the settlement. For example, you won’t be able to make any independent claim against Alltru arising from the written notices (presale and/or post-sale notices) this lawsuit is about. Staying in the Class also means all
       
      the Court’s orders in this lawsuit will apply to you and legally bind you. To see exactly the legal claims and defenses you give up if you get settlement benefits, please view the Settlement Agreement in the Important Court Documents section.

  13. How do I get out of the settlement?

    1. To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying you want to be excluded from Ochoa v. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Case No. 1922-CC10792. Include your name, address, telephone number, last four digits of your Social Security Number, and the name of any other person on your agreement with Alltru (which used to be called 1st Financial Federal Credit Union), along with your signature. The exclusion request must be signed by you and by any co-borrower on your agreement, unless the co-borrower is deceased, in which case you must include a death certificate with your request.
      You cannot exclude yourself by having an actual or purported agent or attorney acting for you or a group of Class Members sign the letter. You must mail your exclusion request postmarked no later than May 11, 2022, to:

      Ochoa v Alltru Settlement
      PO Box 23668
      Jacksonville, FL 32241

      If you ask to be excluded, you’ll get no settlement benefits, and you cannot object to the settlement. You won’t be legally bound by anything that happens. You may sue (or continue to sue) Alltru about the claims asserted.

  14. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue Alltru for the same thing later?

    1. No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Alltru for the claims this settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that case immediately. You must exclude yourself from this Class to continue your own lawsuit. Remember, the exclusion deadline is May 11, 2022. Exclusion requests postmarked later than this date will not be honored.

  15. If I exclude myself, can I get benefits from this settlement?

    1. No. But you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against Alltru about the same claims made.

  16. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    1. The Court appointed Martin L. Daesch, Jesse B. Rochman, Matt O’Grady and their law firm, OnderLaw, LLC to represent you and other Class Members. These lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. They are experienced in handling similar cases against consumer lenders. More information about these lawyers and their firm is available at www.onderlaw.com. You needn’t hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working for you. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

  17. How will the lawyers be paid?

    1. Class Counsel has prosecuted this litigation on a contingent basis and has incurred or advanced all costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees associated with the lawsuit since their investigation of claims against Alltru in 2019. Class Counsel has not been paid for their work or received reimbursement for the expenses they have incurred or advanced for the Class Representatives and Class Members. Class Counsel will ask the Court to approve payment of approximately 28% of the value of the settlement benefits, not to exceed $3,800,000, to them for attorneys’ fees and expenses and payment of $10,000 to George Ochoa and $5000 to Jessica Baker for their services as Class Representatives. The fees and expenses would pay Class Counsel for investigating the facts, litigating the case, negotiating the settlement, and paying the costs to administer the settlement.

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

    1. If you’re a Class Member, you can object to the settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can explain why you think the Court shouldn’t approve it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send a letter saying you object to Ochoa v. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Case No. 1922-CC10792. Your letter must include your name, address, telephone number, facsimile number (if available), email address (if available), last four digits of your Social Security Number, a statement of your objections, and the reasons and facts you contend support your objections. Your objection must include any documents (including loan documents) you rely upon to support your objection and identify any witnesses you plan to use at the Fairness Hearing (described below). If there is other evidence (e.g., documents) that you rely upon for your objection, you must attach copies to your objection. If you plan to use expert witnesses about your objection, you must provide—with your objection—an expert report for each expert outlining the expert’s opinions and the facts and reasons for the expert’s opinions. You must also state whether you intend to appear at the Fairness Hearing and provide copies of any evidence you intend to use at the hearing. Finally, you must sign and date the objection and include a statement substantially in this form: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that all of the information in the objection is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature).”

      Mail the objection to the Court, to Class Counsel, and to Alltru’s Counsel at the separate addresses below. Your objection must be postmarked no later than May 11, 2022:

      COURT

      CLASS COUNSEL

      ALLTRUS COUNSEL

      Circuit Clerk’s Office
      Attn: Judge Michael Francis Stelzer
      10 N Tucker Blvd
      St. Louis, MO 63101

      Martin L. Daesch
      Jesse Rochman
      OnderLaw, LLC
      110 E. Lockwood Ave.
      St. Louis, MO 63119

      Thomas M. Martin
      Joseph E. Bant
      Lewis Rice
      1010 Walnut Street, Suite 500
      Kansas City, MO 64106

      If an attorney is submitting the objection for you, besides information and materials discussed above, the objection must include the name, address, telephone number, facsimile number (if available), and email address (if available) of your attorney and a detailed description of the legal authorities supporting each objection.

      If you file an objection, Class Counsel or Alltru’s Counsel may notice and take your deposition, consistent with the Missouri Supreme Court Rules, at an agreed-upon location before the Fairness Hearing and seek any documentary evidence or other tangible things relevant to the objection. Failure by an objector to comply with discovery requests may cause the Court to strike the objection and otherwise deny that person the opportunity to be heard further. The Court reserves the right to tax the costs of any such discovery to the objector or objector’s counsel should the Court determine the objection is frivolous or is made for an improper purpose.

  19. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding?

    1. Objecting is telling the Court you don’t like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court you don’t want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.

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

    1. The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on June 6, 2022, at the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit, 10 N. Tucker Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63101. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Stelzer will listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing. The Court may also decide how much to pay to Class Counsel and the Class Representatives. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We don’t know how long these decisions will take.

  21. Do I have to come to the hearing?

    1. No. Class Counsel will answer questions that Judge Stelzer may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. If you mailed your written objection on time with all the required information, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but that is unnecessary.

  22. May I speak at the hearing?

    1. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. You may speak either for or against the settlement. To speak for the settlement, you must send a letter saying it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear in Ochoa v. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Case No. 1922-CC10792.” Include your name, address, telephone number, last four digits of your Social Security Number, and your signature. Your “Notice of Intention to Appear” must be postmarked no later than May 11, 2022 and be sent to the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Class Counsel, and Alltru’s Counsel, at the three addresses provided in question 18.

      If you plan to speak at the Fairness Hearing to tell the Court you don’t like something about the settlement, you must submit an objection as detailed in question 18 and include with that objection a statement you intend to appear at the Fairness Hearing. The identity of any witnesses or experts you plan to present at the Fairness Hearing, with evidence you intend to present at the Fairness Hearing, must also be included with your objection.

      You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself or if you don’t send in a request with the required information and documents.

  23. Are there more details about the settlement?

    1. This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement by writing to Ochoa v Alltru Settlement, PO Box 23668, Jacksonville, FL 32241, or by visiting Important Court Documents section.

  24. How do I get more information?

    1. You can call 1-800-789-4102; email [email protected]; write to Ochoa v Alltru Settlement, PO Box 23668, Jacksonville, FL 32241; or visit the Important Court Documents section where you will find information to help you determine whether you are a Class Member.