A Court has authorized this notice because you have a right to know about the proposed settlement of this class-action lawsuit, and your options, before the Court decides whether to give “final approval” to the Settlement. This notice explains the lawsuit, the proposed Settlement, and your legal rights.
The Honorable Rodolfo A. Ruiz, II, of the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, is overseeing this class-action lawsuit, known as Taylor, et. al. v. SCI Direct, Inc., et. al., Case No. 0:20-cv-60709-RAR. Nancy Taylor and Hazel Benjamin, the people who brought this litigation, are called the “Plaintiffs” or “Class Representatives,” and the companies they sued, SCI Direct, Inc., Neptune Management Corp. a/k/a Neptune Society Management Corporation d/b/a Neptune Society, and NCS Marketing Services, LLC d/b/a National Cremation Society are called the “Defendants.”
In January 2023, the Settlement Administrator discovered a set of original Notices sent to Settlement Class Members that were timely returned as undeliverable but were inadvertently not remailed. After the Settlement Administrator discovered these notices, it located updated addresses for some of these Settlement Class Members. The Court decided that a Supplemental Notice and Supplemental Claim Form should be remailed to the updated addresses for these Settlement Class Members. If you receive a Supplemental Notice form postmarked on or after January 25, 2023 and you would like to cancel your Agreements and receive a refund of the purchase price you paid (if you return the benefits under the Agreements), you need to complete a Supplemental Claim Form. You may submit a Supplemental Claim Form online via this Settlement Website or you may download a Supplemental Claim Form from this Settlement Website and mail your completed Supplemental Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator. A Supplemental Claim Form is also included with the Supplemental Notice.
Neptune and NCS are engaged in the sale of Preneed Funeral Agreements to provide preneed cremation services and Retail Merchandise Agreements to provide related merchandise throughout the State of Florida. On behalf of Medical Air Services Association of Florida, Inc. (“MASA”), Neptune and NCS also engaged in the sale of Transportation and Relocation Protection Plans (“TRPP”) throughout the State of Florida to provide membership in a transportation services plan should the purchaser or beneficiary relocate or be outside of seventy-five (75) miles of his or her residence at the time of passing. Plaintiffs allege in the Lawsuit that Defendants violated Florida’s Funeral Act, Chapter 497, Florida Statutes, by, among other things, misrepresenting to customers the different statutory rights applicable to preneed services and related merchandise. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in their marketing and sale of the TRPP by, among other things, materially misrepresenting their financial interest in the sale. Among other things, Plaintiffs ask the Court for the option to rescind some or all their contracts and all contracts of all those similarly situated.
The Defendants have asserted substantial legal and factual defenses against Plaintiffs’ claims and deny Plaintiffs’ allegations in the Lawsuit. Defendants deny that Plaintiffs’ proposed classes may be certified except for settlement purposes and deny any liability to the Plaintiffs, Settlement Classes, or any Settlement Class Member, for any claims, causes of action, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, or damages of any kind.
In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” assert claims on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are the “Class” or “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who timely exclude themselves from (or “opt out” of) the Class. The Class Representatives in the Action are the Plaintiffs identified above.
All parties have agreed to a Settlement to avoid further cost and risk of a trial, and so that the people affected can begin getting benefits in exchange for releasing the Defendants from liability for the claims that were raised or could have been raised in the lawsuit. The Court did not decide which side was right. The Class Representatives and the lawyers representing them think the Settlement is fair and reasonable for the Settlement Classes.
If you have received this Notice, you are a Member of one or both of the following Settlement Classes:
A. Preneed and Retail Merchandise Plan Settlement Class:
All persons who, between April 1, 2016, and the present, purchased a Preneed Funeral Agreement and a Retail Merchandise Agreement from Neptune or NCS (“Preneed and Retail Merchandise Plan”) within the State of Florida, excluding all Preneed and Retail Merchandise Plans for which the contracted for cremation services have been performed, and irrevocable preneed contracts.
B. TRPP Settlement Class:
All persons who, between April 1, 2016, and the present, purchased a TRPP from Neptune or NCS, within the State of Florida, excluding all TRPPs where the beneficiary has already been cremated or buried.
Also excluded from the Settlement Classes are: (i) SCI Direct, Neptune, NCS, and any of their employees, officers, or directors; (ii) members of the judiciary and their staff to whom these actions are assigned; and (iii) Counsel for the Parties.
The Settlement provides the following benefits to Settlement Class Members:
Participating Class Members of the Preneed and Retail Merchandise Plan Settlement Class (defined above) will have the option to cancel both their Retail Merchandise Agreement and Preneed Funeral Agreement and receive a full refund of the purchase price paid for each agreement, less any amounts previously refunded. This extended right of cancellation for purchasers of the Retail Merchandise Agreement is contingent upon the Participating Class Member returning the merchandise received (in substantially original condition) under that agreement and giving up their rights under their other Agreement(s). A Participating Class Member cannot exercise this extended right to cancel the Retail Merchandise Agreement without also cancelling the Preneed Funeral Agreement.
Participating Class Members of the TRPP Settlement Class (defined above) will have the option to cancel their TRPP and receive a full refund of the purchase price paid for that agreement, less any amounts previously refunded. This extended right of cancellation is contingent upon the Participating Class Member also cancelling any Preneed Funeral Agreement and/or Retail Merchandise Agreement he/she/they purchased for the same beneficiary as the TRPP from Neptune or NCS. In order to cancel their TRPP, all of the Participating Class Member’s agreements with NCS or Neptune for the same beneficiary must also be cancelled (and the merchandise must be returned in substantially original condition), and he or she will receive a full refund of the purchase price paid for all the cancelled agreements.
Return of Merchandise: Class Members who timely submit a Claim Form will receive a prepaid shipping label from SCI Direct, Inc. for the return of their merchandise. They should pack and ship the merchandise using the prepaid label. Please do not return merchandise to the Settlement Administrator.
Free Obituary for Class Members Who Choose Not to Cancel: To the extent Settlement Class Members choose not to submit a claim to cancel their Agreements, Neptune or NCS will provide the beneficiary with entitlement to an online obituary, free of charge. This includes the services of Neptune or NCS personnel to work with families to craft the language of the obituary. Settlement Class Members do not need to submit a Claim Form to receive this benefit.
As part of this Settlement, Defendants have agreed to provide the following notice herein to Settlement Class Members of the statutory right for purchasers of Preneed Funeral Agreements to cancel those agreements:
Unless your Preneed Funeral Agreement has been made irrevocable, it may be cancelled at any time prior to receipt of the services by giving written notice to the seller. Upon providing such notice you shall be entitled to a refund for unused services, as provided in more detail by law. See Fla. Stat. § 497.459(1)-(2).
If the Settlement becomes final, Settlement Class Members will be releasing the Defendants and the Released Persons from all of the Released Claims described and identified Class Action Settlement Agreement and Release.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and would like to cancel your Agreements and receive a refund of the purchase price you paid (if you return the benefits under the Agreements), you need to complete a Claim Form. You may submit a Supplemental Claim Form online via the Settlement Website or you may also download a Supplemental Claim Form from the Settlement Website and mail your completed Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator. A Claim Form is also included with this Notice.
Under the Original Notice Deadlines, Claim Forms were to be mailed postmarked or submitted online no later than December 30, 2022.
If you receive a Supplemental Notice form postmarked on or after January 25, 2023, then your Supplemental Claim must be mailed postmarked or submitted online no later than February 24, 2023.
If you chose not to cancel your Agreements, the Defendant you contracted with will provide you with entitlement to an online obituary, free of charge. Entitlement to the obituary will be noted in your records, and it, along with the services you purchased, will be available to you at the time of need. You do not need to submit a Claim Form to receive this benefit.
The Court will hold a hearing on March 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. EST, to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement, there may be objections. It is always uncertain whether objections will be filed and, if so, how long it will take to resolve them. As soon as possible after all objections (if any) have been resolved and the Court grants final approval of the settlement, prepaid labels for the return of merchandise will be sent to Participating Class Members who have submitted valid and timely Claim Forms. Once the merchandise has been returned (in substantially original condition), refund payments will be distributed to Participating Class Members.
Settlement Class Members who choose not to submit a Claim Form to cancel their agreements will receive the entitlement to an online obituary, free of charge, as soon as possible after the Court grants final approval.
Yes, if you want to keep the right to sue or if you are already suing the Defendants in another action over the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to opt out of this Settlement. This is called asking to be excluded from – sometimes called “opting out” of – the Settlement.
No, if you ask to be excluded, you cannot object to the Settlement, and you will not receive any of the benefits of the Settlement. But you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against the Defendants in the future, including for claims that this Settlement resolves. You will not be bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit.
No, unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue the Defendants for the claims that this Settlement resolves.
Settlement Class Members wishing to opt out of the Settlement must send to the Settlement Administrator by U.S. mail a personally signed letter including: (a) their full name; (b) current address; (c) telephone number; (d) a clear and unequivocal statement that the Settlement Class Member wishes to be excluded from whichever Settlement Class he or she is a member of; (e) their signature or, in the case of a Settlement Class Member who is deceased or incapacitated only, the signature of the Legally Authorized Representative of the Settlement Class Member; and (f) the case name and case number (Taylor v. SCI Direct, Inc., et. al., Case No. 0:20-cv-60709-RAR).
Under the Original Notice Deadlines, Requests for exclusion were to be mailed to the Settlement Administrator on or before December 15, 2022.
If you received a Supplemental Notice form postmarked on or after January 25, 2023, then you must mail your request for exclusion to the Settlement Administrator at the address below, postmarked on or before February 24, 2023.
Funeral Agreement Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 58220
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Failure to comply with any of these requirements for excluding yourself may result in you being bound by this Settlement.
Yes, the Court has appointed the following attorneys as Class Counsel for the Settlement Classes:
Alec H. Schultz
Randall P. Ewing, Jr.
You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one to appear in Court for you at your own expense.
Class Counsel will make a motion to the Court for an Attorneys’ Fee Award which will be paid by the Defendants if the settlement is approved and will not affect the relief sought to class members under this Settlement. Class Counsel will seek no more than $5,500,000 in Attorneys’ Fees to be paid by Defendants if approved by the Court.
Settlement Class Members who do not timely request to opt out of the Settlement may object to the Settlement. Any Settlement Class Member who has any objection to certification of the Settlement Classes, or to approval of this Settlement or any terms hereof, or to the approval process, must make that objection by the following procedure:
1. The objection must be in writing and must set forth all objections and the reasons therefore, verify that the objector is a Settlement Class Member and identification of which Settlement Class(es) is a member, and a statement whether the Settlement Class Member intends to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either with or without the objector’s counsel. The objection must identify any witnesses intended to be called, the subject area of the witnesses’ testimony, and all documents to be used or offered into evidence at the Final Approval Hearing;
2. The objection must include a list of all other proposed class settlements where the objector has submitted an objection in the last 5 years;
3. The objection must be signed by the individual Settlement Class Member and by his/her/its counsel; an objection signed by counsel alone shall not be sufficient;
4. The objection must contain a prominent identifying reference to Taylor as follows: “Nancy Taylor, et. al. v. SCI Direct, Inc. et. al., Case No. 0:20-cv-60709-RAR” and include the name, mailing address, e-mail address, if any (an e-mail address is not required) of the objecting Settlement Class Member, and, if represented by counsel, the name and address of his/her/their counsel;
5. Any Settlement Class Member who submits a timely written objection shall consent to deposition by Class Counsel or the Defendants’ Counsel prior to the Final Approval Hearing; and
6. Under the Original Notice Deadlines, objections were to be mailed to the Settlement Administrator no later than December 20, 2022. If you received a Supplemental Notice form postmarked on or after January 25, 2023, then you must mail your objection to the Settlement Administrator at the address below on or before February 24, 2023. Class Counsel shall file all objections with the Court by a date prior to the Final Approval Hearing, which is scheduled for March 1, 2023. Objections should be mailed to: Funeral Agreement Settlement, c/o Settlement Administrator, Attn: Objections, P.O. Box 58220, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
7. Failure to comply timely and fully with these procedures shall result in the invalidity and dismissal of any objection. Any Settlement Class Member who does not fully and timely comply with these procedures shall waive the right to object or to be heard at the Final Approval Hearing and shall be forever barred from making any objection (whether by appeal or otherwise) to the Settlement. Settlement Class Members who object to the Settlement shall remain in the Settlement Classes and will have voluntarily waived their right to pursue an independent remedy against Defendants. To the extent any Settlement Class Member(s) objects to the Settlement, and such objection is overruled in whole or in part, such Settlement Class Member(s) will be forever bound by the Final Order and Judgment of the Court.
If you received a Supplemental Notice form postmarked on or after January 25, 2023, then you must mail your objection on or before February 24, 2023.
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Settlement, and thus do not want to receive any benefits from the Settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the Settlement no longer affects you.
The Court will hold a “Final Approval Hearing” to decide whether to approve the Settlement on March 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. EST in Courtroom 4, 10th Floor located at the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building, 99 N.E. 4th Street, Miami, FL 33132. At this hearing, Judge Ruiz will determine whether the Settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable and whether the objections by Settlement Class Members, if any, have merit. If you have filed an objection on time, you may attend and ask to speak, but you don’t have to. However, Judge Ruiz will only listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing. At this hearing, Judge Ruiz will also decide the attorneys’ fees for the lawyers representing the Settlement Classes. We do not know how long the Court’s decision will take, and the hearing date may change. Please visit www.FuneralAgreementSettlement.com for updates.
No, Settlement Class Counsel will answer any questions Judge Ruiz 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. As long as you mail your valid written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay another lawyer to attend, but that’s not required.
You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must indicate so when you submit your objection (see FAQ 18 above). You cannot speak at the hearing if you have excluded yourself from the Settlement.
If you do nothing, your agreements will remain in full force and effect. You will give up give up the right to cancel your Retail Merchandise Agreement and/or TRPP and receive a refund for the amounts paid for these Agreements (you still retain the right to cancel your Preneed Funeral Agreement). You also give up the right to be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants about the legal claims released by the Settlement. You will receive entitlement to an electronic obituary from the Defendant you contracted with, free of charge.
Funeral Agreement Settlement Administrator
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Email: info@FuneralAgreementSettlement.com Phone: (855) 757-0055