, , ,

Helio Settling a Class Action for Early Termination Fees! More ETF suits to follow?

Attorney’s representing Samuel Vanover, and “The Class” are going to settle a lawsuit over early termination fees or ETF’s with now defunct wireless carrier Helio.

You may remember Helio, they offered those cool “My Space” phones during the mid part of the decade that you could find at your local FYE.  Helio was a joint venture between SK Telecom and Earthlink.  They called themselves a virtual carrier which meant they leased CDMA wireless service in the United States from Sprint.

Helio promised to deliver cutting edge devices, precursors to smartphones. In fact famous Web OS designer, Matius Duarte was the design chief at Helio. Duarte had also worked with Andy Rubin while at Danger. After a brief stint at Palm in charge of WebOS Duarte is now back home at Google working on Android.

Earthlink quickly gave up on Helio and left SK Telecom to basically run it on their own. Eventually Virgin mobile purchased Helio and then Sprint purchased Virgin Mobile.  In early 2010 the Helio phones disappeared off Virgin’s website. Sprint announced in March of 2010 that it would cease service of Helio devices and customers could migrate to Sprint or get service elsewhere on a different device.  On May 25, 2010 it was all over, Sprint pulled the plug on Helio all together.

Helio’s contracts with customers called for a flat rate $175 early termination fee. Former customer Samuel Vanover started a lawsuit against Helio in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County.  The lawsuit alleged that Helio imposed unlawful flatrate early termination fees which are a violation of the California Consumer Remedies Act section 1750 and other related laws.

The settlement class is open to anyone who was a Helio customer prior to October 2010 and either paid an early termination fee or stayed with Helio to avoid paying an early termination fee. For the complete Criteria visit this website

All of the four major carriers have recently come under fire and in some cases investigation, for the practice of early termination fees.

If you feel you’re in the class please visit the link above

Here is a copy of the notification sent to customers

THIS LEGAL NOTICE CONCERNS THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT OF THE CLASS ACTION SAMUEL VANOVER v. HELIO, LLC, BC 414842, IN THE SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES.

THE DATE OF THE FINAL FAIRNESS HEARING AND THE DEADLINES FOR SUBMITTING A CLAIM FORM, REQUESTING EXCLUSION FROM THE CLASS, AND OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT HAVE CHANGED. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY SUBMITTED A CLAIM FORM IN CONNECTION WITH THIS SETTLEMENT, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO SO AGAIN.

LEGAL NOTICE

IF YOU HAD A CONTRACT FOR WIRELESS SERVICES WITH HELIO
THAT CONTAINED A FLAT RATE EARLY TERMINATION FEE PRIOR TO OCTOBER 4, 2010
YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO A REFUND FROM A CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

Visit www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com for more information

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION AND PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
A proposed class action settlement has been reached in the case Vanover v. Helio, LLC, BC 414842, in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles. The settlement resolves a lawsuit over allegedly unlawful Early Termination Fees.

Your legal rights may be affected whether you act, or don’t act. Please read this Notice carefully. Visit www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com to read the full agreement and make a claim.

What is the Lawsuit About?

This lawsuit alleges that Helio’s contracts with consumers for cellular telephone services imposed unlawful flat rate Early Termination Fees.  This lawsuit seeks to represent a group or “Class” of persons who were affected by such fees.

Helio denies that it or its business partners violated any law.  The Court has not determined who was right.  Rather, the parties have agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the uncertainties, expenses, and waste of resources that will result from further litigation.  This Notice is not an admission of wrongdoing by any party.

How Do I Know if I am a Class Member?

You are a member of the Class if you are a current or former Helio customer in the United States and its territories who, at any time prior to October 4, 2010, was in a contract with Helio for wireless telephone service that contained an Early Termination Fee.  You are a member of the Class regardless of whether or not you paid any portion of the Early Termination Fee to Helio or any third-party collection agency or any other party to which Helio assigned its rights.

What Can I Get From the Settlement?

If you are a Class member, file a valid claim, and the Court approves the settlement, you are entitled to money.  If you paid Helio directly for a flat rate Early Termination Fee, you are entitled to a refund of a portion of the Early Termination Fee.  This portion is equal to the difference between the fee actually paid and a pro-rated fee that is reduced by $5 per month of service following the first month, less any amounts owed to Helio for wireless service.  If Helio does not have a record of your payment, you may be requested to provide proof of payment.

If you paid a flat rate Early Termination Fee to a third party, such as a debt collector, you are also entitled to a refund equal to the difference described above.  You must submit proof of payment (a receipt, a credit card statement, or other proof) to the Settlement Administrator.

If you don’t appear in Helio’s records and have no proof of payment, or if you paid a third-party debt collector and have no proof, or if you simply were charged the Early Termination Fee but refused to pay it, or if you were never charged the Early Termination Fee but swear under oath that you stayed with Helio due to the Early Termination Fee, you are entitled to $10.

How Can I Get a Payment?

To qualify for payment, you must submit a timely, truthful, accurate, and properly completed Claim Form.  You may either submit the Claim Form online at www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com by following the instructions found with the link, or you may mail a completed Claim Form postmarked no later than February 28, 2011 to Vanover v. Helio, LLC Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 6177, Novato, CA 94948-6177.

What are My Other Options?

You or your lawyer has the right to appear before the Court and object to the proposed settlement. Your written objection must be submitted by January 7, 2011.  If you do not wish to be a member of the Class, you may exclude yourself by writing to the Settlement Administrator.  Specific instructions are available at www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com. Your request must be submitted by January 7, 2011.

If you do nothing you will be in the Class, and if the Court approves the settlement, you will also be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court.  If approved, your claims against Helio regarding Helio’s inclusion and/or imposition of any Early Termination Fee in its contracts for wireless telephone service will be fully resolved and released.

Who Represents Me?

The Court has approved Steven L. Lezell and Sean Reis of Edelson McGuire LLC to be the attorneys representing the Class in this case.  These attorneys are referred to as Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers.  If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your expense.

Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys’ fees and expenses of up to $235,000 from the Settlement Fund.  Helio has agreed to pay the Class Representative $5,000 from the Settlement Fund for his services in helping to bring and settle this case. The Court may award less than these amounts.

When will the Court Consider the Proposed Settlement?

The Court will hold the Fairness Hearing at 11:00 a.m. on January 28, 2011 at the Central Civil West Courthouse, Department 307, 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90005.  At that hearing, the Court will hear any objections concerning the fairness of the settlement that have been properly requested, as set forth above.  The hearing may be postponed to a different date or time without notice. You are not required to come to the Fairness Hearing.

How Do I Get More Information?

For more information about the proposed settlement and a copy of the Full Notice and Claim Form, go to www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com, contact the Settlement Administrator at 1-888-701-8252 or Vanover v. Helio, LLC Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 6177, Novato, CA 94948-6177 or call Class Counsel at 1-866-354-3015.


The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles has ordered this email notice be sent. If you wish to UNSUBSCRIBE from future email messages, please click here.
HELIO SETTLEMENT CLAIM FORM

Return this Claim Form to:  Vanover v. Helio, LLC Settlement Administrator,
P.O. Box 6177, Novato, CA  94948-6177.
Questions, visit www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com or call 1-888-701-8252

This Claim Form has been formatted in HTML so that it retains the proper formatting.
If your email program uses text formatting, then to view a properly formatted Claim Form, click here.

DEADLINE: THIS CLAIM FORM MUST BE RECEIVED OR POSTMARKED BY FEBRUARY 28, 2011

Instructions:  Each person seeking a cash benefit under the Class Action Settlement Agreement must complete either a paper or electronic Claim Form.  Everyone must provide the information requested in the Part A “Claimant Information” section, fill in EITHER Option #1 or Option #2 under Part B “Early Termination Fee Information,” and sign the “Certification” section under Part C.  You can only submit a claim under either Option #1 or Option #2, not both.  For further information on each of these options and which one is best for you, please review the Notice of Pendency, visit www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com, or call 1-888-701-8252.

To submit a claim for cash benefit under Option #1, begin by filling in Part A.  Once completed, complete the top half of Part B, Option #1, by checking the applicable boxes indicating that you paid an Early Termination Fee either directly to Helio or to an interested third-party debt collector (“Debt Collector”) and, if to a Debt Collector, that you have proof of payment.  SKIP Option #2 and sign the Certification under Part C and, if payment was made to a Debt Collector, attach the proof of payment (a receipt, letter of payment, release of satisfaction judgment, credit card statement, etc.).

To submit a claim for cash benefit under Option #2, begin by filling out Part A.  If you paid a Debt Collector but lack proof of payment, were charged an Early Termination Fee but did not pay the fee, or were not charged the Early Termination Fee but remained in your contract with Helio because of the Early Termination Fee, SKIP Option #1, check the necessary boxes in Part B under Option #2, sign the Certification under Part C, to the form either electronically or by mailing it with this form.

After the form is completed mail to the Settlement Administrator, Vanover v. Helio, LLC Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 6177, Novato, CA 94948-6177 along with any necessary proof of payment under Option #1 or click submit.

PART A – CLAIMANT INFORMATION*
First Name:
Middle Initial: ______
Last Name:
Street:
City:
State: ______
Zip Code: ___  ___  ___  ___  ___
Helio Cell Phone Number:  ( ___  ___  ___ )  ___  ___  ___  –  ___  ___  ___  ___
This must be the number that was/is associated with the early termination charges.

Amount Paid to Helio or an Interested Third Party (i.e., Collection Agency), If Any:  $ ___________

Contact Phone Number:  ( ___  ___  ___ )  ___  ___  ___  –  ___  ___  ___  ___
Please provide a phone number where you can be reached if further information is required.

Email Address:  __________________________________________________________
If you contacted Helio via email, please provide the address used to send your message(s).

* All information in this section is required.  Please then complete either Option #1 or Option #2 below.

PART B – EARLY TERMINATION FEE PAYMENT INFORMATION
Option #1 – Cash Refund for Payment of Early Termination Fee

By submitting a Claim Form under Option #1 and checking the boxes below, I verify that I believe I am a member of the Class and that the following statements are true (check each box that applies):

Prior to October 4, 2010, I was a Helio customer in the United States and its territories who was party to a contract with Helio for wireless telephone service that contained a flat-rate Early Termination Fee; AND
Prior to October 4, 2010, I paid Helio an Early Termination Fee for ending my contract before the contract expiration date; OR
Prior to October 4, 2010, I paid an interested third party (i.e., collection agency) an Early Termination Fee for ending my contract before the contract expiration date and I have proof of payment such as a receipt, letter of payment, release of satisfaction judgment, credit card statement, etc.  (Please submit such proof of payment with your Claim Form).
If you have selected and completed Option #1, please skip Option #2 and proceed to Part C.
Option #2 – Flat $10 Cash Refund

By submitting a Claim Form under Option #2 and in checking the boxes below, I verify that I believe I am a member of the Class and that the following statements and information provided are true (check each box that applies):

Prior to October 4, 2010, I was a Helio customer in the United States and its territories who was party to a contract with Helio for wireless telephone service that contained an Early Termination Fee; AND
Prior to October 4, 2010, I paid Helio or an interested third party (i.e., collection agency) an Early Termination Fee for ending my contract before the contract expiration date but do NOT have proof of payment; OR
I was charged an Early Termination Fee but did not make payment of the Early Termination Fee; OR
I was not charged an Early Termination Fee, but I did not terminate my Helio contract early because of the Early Termination Fee.
PART C – CERTIFICATION UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY
I declare under penalty of perjury that I believe I am a member of the Class.
Signature:
Date (mm/dd/yyyy):
Print Name:
If approved, your claim under either Option #1 or Option #2 entitles you to a refund of the amount claimed above, or a pro rata share of the settlement if the total claims, refunds, expenses, and the fee award exceed the Settlement Fund.
Questions?  Visit www.TerminationFeesSettlement.com or Call 1-888-701-8252