Yesterday afternoon, Gilardi, the court-appointed claims administrator in this case, confirmed that all checks have mailed to living class members. Please allow a few days for your check to arrive. The check represents your total compensation award for your lost wages, plus interest accumulated to date. A letter is enclosed with your check itemizing your award and any deductions required by law.
Some of you have expressed concerns that Gilardi representatives have stated that this check represents an “installment” payment, with some amount of your award left to be paid. What they are referring to is a second distribution to you of unclaimed funds. Under the distribution plan approved by the court, any funds unclaimed by class members (that is, funds allocated to checks that go uncashed) will be distributed to those of you who cash the checks you are receiving now. In other words, these unclaimed funds will be distributed (after a fair amount of time to claim them) to the benefit of the active class members on top of your lost wage awards that you are receiving now.
In communications with the State and the Gilardi Company this morning, we now have a firm commitment that over 20,000 checks are in the process of printing and that the checks will be mailed on Friday, September 25, 2015. We know that receipt of these checks will be a great relief to the financial stresses many of you have in your life and we will rejoice with you later this week as the checks are sent. It has been a long journey for us all – the first legal work on this case started in 2004! We are overjoyed and greatly relieved ourselves that the money the State owed for these wages is finally getting in the rightful hands – and not just some it, but all of it, plus one heck of an interest rate on it. Even Donald Trump would be envious of this return on investment.
Moments ago, we managed to get an update regarding where the State and Gilardi are in the payment process after our continuing and constant discussion with and pressure on them behind the scenes. As with all our updates, we want to pass this information along to you as soon as possible to, at the very least, reassure you that the process is continually moving. Here is the latest:
The State has now (1) paid its employer share of employment taxes required before the funds can be distributed and (2) transferred the entire sum of wages to Gilardi’s secured account. The State’s delay in making these payments and transfers has been the major roadblock to finalizing your payments. With this now out of the way, Gilardi should be able to finalize its tax calculations and mail payments soon afterward, although we should point out that a specific mailing date was not provided in the update we just received. We have asked for the specific date and will update you as soon as we get it.
The initial distribution will be to the 19,222 living class members. Of interest, and certainly part of delay, has been the complexity of dealing with funds for the 1,399 individuals who are eligible to receive funds but died from 2003 to present. After emphasizing that payment to those ready and waiting for their checks has to be prioritized above all other issues, we now have a commitment that Gilardi can move forward with payments to everyone else and we will develop a later time frame and process for the funds of those who have passed away.
Also, we wanted to reassure some of you regarding your concerns that Gilardi is profiting from the interest accumulating on the judgment amount and that such profits may be playing a role in delays in the payment process. Gilardi is not profiting from the interest. The interest is accumulating on the judgment at a rate of 12% and goes to you, the class members to compensate you for the delay between the court entering the judgment and the judgment being paid to you. Although we wish you had never suffered any delays from the State in receiving payments at all, we fought hard to get this condition placed into the court order so that delays do not financially benefit anyone but you.
As you know from previous updates, we were informed by the court-appointed claims administrator for this case, Gilardi & Co., LLC, that it anticipated sending out your payments by the end of August. When it became apparent this would not happen, we immediately contacted Gilardi on your behalf for an explanation.
After speaking with Gilardi representatives, it appears that the final claims administration steps are almost complete. It look longer than Gilardi expected to get the fund set up within the State of Washington for paying the employment taxes on the award. The delay occurred in large part because the State took a long amount of time to provide Gilardi with the applicable unemployment tax rates necessary to create this fund and finalize your awards. Gilardi has now received the unemployment tax rate last week and will be sending all the tax rates (State and federal) to the Department of Social and Health Services for review. Once reviewed, Gilardi will be requesting the amount needed from the Department of Social and Health Services for the employer share of the employment taxes. By law, Gilardi cannot disburse funds to class members until these steps are completed. Settlement payments will be disbursed from Gilardi within days of receiving the funds necessary to cover the employer share of the employment taxes.
As we have said earlier, were it up to us, you would have your checks long ago. Unfortunately, the law imposes many requirements before such a large fund can be disbursed to so many people. The process of meeting these requirements is largely driven by the State coordinating and cooperating with Gilardi to provide all necessary information so that Gilardi can complete the legal steps necessary to issue your checks. We can assure you that we are exerting the maximum amount of pressure possible to ensure these things occur in a timely manner, to express our (and your) displeasure when delays occur, and to impress on the State and Gilardi the necessity of resolving delays as soon as possible. We appreciate your continued patience.
The court-appointed claims administrator for this case, Gilardi & Co., LLC, informed us this week that it anticipates sending out your payments by the end of this month. In the meantime, we reached out to Gilardi for further information regarding the payment process and wanted to share that information with you. As you may recall from previous updates, Gilardi has been busy with a legally-required audit and finalization of the preliminary award amounts for each class member as calculated by the court-appointed certified public accountant. This audit has involved many steps, from simply double-checking and verifying the CPA’s calculations, as well as much more legally and mathematically complex steps, such as calculating employment tax withholding from each amount (as they represent wages subject to withholdings) and remitting the total withholdings to the State. We have been assured that Gilardi has a team of tax professionals and accountants working on this around the clock to make these calculations for each of the over 22,000 class members.
We will let you know when you may contact Gilardi to request the amount of the payment you will be receiving. You can contact Gilardi at 1-877-308-5024 or through the following website: http://www.rekhter-dshs-classaction.com/contact-us.aspx. We appreciate the privilege of representing you and your patience during this process.
We are writing to update you with information that we received just today regarding the court-ordered calculation and verification process for your payments. In June, because it was required by the court in this case, notice was mailed out to all 22,000 class members by the court appointed settlement administrator, Gilardi & Co., to verify the identities and current addresses of class members and to ensure that every single person entitled to a portion of these funds receives them. Later that month, Gilardi provided financial information to the certified public accountant (CPA) hired by the court to calculate each class member’s portion of the judgment.
We were notified today that the CPA has finished his calculations and provided them to Gilardi. As required by law, Gilardi now must audit those calculations itself and make sure they are correct before being able to provide you with the finalized amount of your payment and to begin mailing checks. We have made sure that Gilardi understands that the class members have been waiting a long time for their payments, and Gilardi has assured us that the audit will occur as quickly as possible.
We will let you know when you may contact Gilardi to request the amount of the payment you will be receiving. You can contact Gilardi at 1-877-308-5024 or through the following website: http://www.rekhter-dshs-classaction.com/contact-us.aspx. We wish we could provide you with the amount of your payment ourselves, but we do not have access to that information as part of this court-mandated process. We will also let you know as soon as Gilardi provides us with a definite date for your checks being mailed to you.
Were it up to us, you would have received your payments long ago. We understand your need for the wages wrongfully withheld from you by the State, and we have battled through delay tactic after delay tactic by the State to make your recovery happen as soon as possible. Ultimately, however, the law requires—especially with so many class members and tens of millions of dollars—many accounting and audit safeguards before Gilardi can distribute the money so that the distribution is done fairly, efficiently, and correctly. In other words, the legal requirements are designed around the idea of “do it right, do it once” to make the payment process as smooth and painless for you as possible. We appreciate your patience during this process.
In mid-April, the State of Washington finished providing the claims administrator, Gilardi & Associates, with updated contact information, social security numbers, and other relevant information for all 22,000 class plaintiffs. With this information now provided, the claims administrator and a certified public accountant will be able to finish calculating the exact amount owed to each plaintiff. The claims administrator then is required by law to perform a number of tasks to double-check the amounts owed, to determine whether further information is needed to verify the identities of the recipients of those amounts, and to publish notice in media such as local newspapers that checks will begin issuing soon in order to make sure that plaintiffs for whom updated contact information is not available have an opportunity to claim their money.
The claims administrator believes all these legally-required steps will be completed and it will begin sending out checks by July or August. We thank you for your patience and your understanding that all these steps are required by the court and designed to make the process of receiving your money as smooth and seamless as possible.
In the meantime, if you have updated contact information or need to check whether your contact information on file is correct, please call the claims administrator at 877-308-5024. You may also visit the claims administrator’s claims website for this settlement at http://rekhter-dshs-classaction.com.
The State of Washington is providing the claims administrator, Gilardi & Associates, with updated contact information and social security numbers for all 22,000 class plaintiffs. As soon as this information is provided, the claims administrator and a certified public accountant will be able to fix the exact amount for each plaintiff and begin sending checks. We understand that this process will be completed very soon and we hope the checks will be in the mail to the class plaintiffs very soon.
If you have updated contact information or need to check whether your contact information on file is correct, please call the claims administrator at 877-308-5024. You may also visit Gilardi’s claims website for this settlement at http://rekhter-dshs-classaction.com.
As we told you in earlier updates, the state legislature has been debating a supplemental budget bill which includes full payment of the money you are owed in this case, as well as the costs of responding to and recovering from last year’s Carlton Complex wildfires and the Oso landslide, whose victims PCVA is also proud to represent. In a remarkably quick turnaround, the legislature passed that bill. Yesterday, Governor Inslee signed that bill into law, effective immediately.
With this quick funding action by the legislature, DSHS has now initiated full and final payment of the roughly $85 million it owes to the court-appointed claims administrator, Gilardi & Co., who will be mailing a check to you for the amounts you are owed. The calculations for how much each of you will get are still being worked out, but this important final step by the State means you are close to receiving your checks. We will update you as soon as Gilardi sets a date for beginning to mail out your checks.
The great news keeps on coming this week. Today, Judge Erik Price of the Thurston County Superior Court approved our proposed Plan of Distribution of the money owed to you. If you missed our earlier post explaining what a Plan of Distribution is, you can read it here. Both the State and several non-profit entities potentially entitled to any money left over after you are reimbursed for your share of $85 million judgment against the State (courts call these “leftovers” a “residual”) wanted to delay the process while sorting out precisely how the residual, if any, will be distributed to the State and those non-profits. However, we successfully argued that you have waited long enough for the money owed to you already, and the Court should simply approve a plan for paying you now and cross the “residual” bridge if and when we actually get there.
Getting the Court to approve a Plan of Distribution was the next-to-last step in the process for getting you the money owed to you under the judgment. And, as we discussed in our last post, it looks like the last piece of the puzzle will slide into place sooner than we thought. Originally, the State said that it intended to pay the $85 million judgment this July. However, yesterday, the state House of Representatives passed a supplemental budget authorizing payment of the judgment. If the state Senate also passes the supplemental budget and Governor Inslee signs it into law, the State could make its payment (and money starts going out to you) much sooner than July. We will keep you posted.
In the meantime, many of you have called or written asking how much money you will receive from the judgment. Now that we have a Plan of Distribution in place, we have our damages expert calculating precisely how much money you are entitled to under the judgment. We will update you here when those numbers are available.