Hoyte, et al. v. District of Columbia
Hoyte v. District of Columbia Settlement
Case no.: 1:13-cv-00569-CRC

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • The purpose of the notice is to inform you about a proposed settlement in the Hoyte lawsuit. The Settlement may affect the rights of certain people whose vehicles or currency were seized by the District of Columbia for civil forfeiture between April 25, 2010 and June 15, 2015. The Settlement is not final. In order for the Settlement to become final, the Judge in this case, the Honorable Christopher R. Cooper, will hear from Class Members who wish to be heard and will then decide if the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. 

    If you received a notice, it is because you were identified as a potential class member in a proposed class action settlement based on Metropolitan Police Department records. The Court directed that notice be sent to you to inform you of your options and the deadlines to exercise them. The deadline to exclude yourself, object, or file a claim has now passed. 

  • The notice applies to you if you are a member of either of the two classes in this Settlement.

    If the District of Columbia, through its Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”), seized your vehicle for a forfeiture determination pursuant to one of its civil forfeiture statutes and held your vehicle for more than thirty days (or more than 15 but less than 30 days if the vehicle was not held as evidence) at any time from April 25, 2010 through June 15, 2015, you are a member of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class.

    If the District seized your currency for civil forfeiture pursuant to one of its civil forfeiture statutes at any time from April 25, 2010 through June 15, 2015 (“the Class Period”), did not return it, and did not provide you with adequate notice within one year, you are a member of the Forfeiture Notice Class.

  • The Hoyte v. D.C. lawsuit was brought in 2013 by the owner of a vehicle seized for civil forfeiture, pursuant to the District’s civil forfeiture statute, who believed that the District of Columbia should have provided her with a prompt post-seizure hearing in which she could have contested the seizure or the District’s right to keep the vehicle pending the outcome of the final judicial forfeiture proceeding. She then amended her complaint to add other vehicle owners and owners of currency seized for forfeiture who did not receive prompt notice, and to make the lawsuit a class action. The people who represent the classes, called the “Class Representatives,” are Nickoya Hoyte, Kelly Hughes, Steven May, Romona Person, Dorian Urquart, Shanita Washington, Tanisha Williams, Jarrett Acey, Julius Gordon, Marilyn Langly, Terrence Thomas, and Shane Lucas. They filed the lawsuit on their own behalf and on behalf of all other persons like them.

    The plaintiffs sued the District of Columbia, whose agency, the Metropolitan Police Department, administered the civil forfeiture statute and held the vehicles and the currency. The District is the “Defendant” here, the party being sued.

    The plaintiffs and the defendant have written down their agreement in a document called a “Settlement Agreement.” On October 6, 2020, the judge granted preliminary approval to the agreement. A Final Approval Hearing was held on March 9, 2021 virtually via video and the Settlement was given final court approval on April 9, 2021. The Settlement is now in an appeal period. At the end of this period if no appeals have been filed, the Settlement will become “Effective” and will be finalized.

  • In a class action, one or more persons, called the Class Representatives, bring and maintain a lawsuit on behalf of a group of people who have similar claims – the Class Members. A court then resolves the claims for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class.

  • The Settlement Agreement provides for monetary compensation for each Class Member, based on the length of time their vehicle was held by the District or the amount of the money the District seized from them without adequate notice. In exchange, the Settlement Class Members are releasing all claims related to seizures of vehicles or currency for civil forfeiture during the Class Period.

    Without admitting any wrongdoing and to avoid litigating these claims, the Defendant has agreed to pay Three Million Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars. The Settlement Agreement proposes that these funds be allocated as follows:

    • $1,920,637.94, to be paid to the Settlement Class members (“SCM Fund”) for payment of Verified Claims;
    • $133,000 for payment to the Class Representatives to pay their claims and for their special assistance in the case;
    • Up to $118,031.90 for sending notice to class members and the other costs of administering the class settlement;
    • $1,778,330.16 for Plaintiffs’ counsel for attorney’s fees and Litigation Expenses for costs incurred by Plaintiffs’ counsel.

     

    In addition, the District will return to Vehicle Forfeiture Class Members any vehicles belonging to that Member remaining in the District’s possession, provided that the Vehicle Forfeiture Class Member holds good title to that vehicle.

  • There are two Classes in this Settlement, the Vehicle Forfeiture Class and the Forfeiture Notice Class.

    You are a member of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class if the District of Columbia, through its Metropolitan Police Department, seized your vehicle for a forfeiture determination pursuant to one of its civil forfeiture statutes and held your vehicle for more than thirty days (or more than 15 but less than 30 days if the vehicle was not held as evidence) at any time from April 25, 2010 through June 15, 2015.

    You are a member of the Forfeiture Notice Class if the District seized your currency for civil forfeiture pursuant to one of its civil forfeiture statutes at any time from April 25, 2010 through June 15, 2015, did not return it, and did not provide you with adequate notice within one year.

  • To qualify for a payment from the settlement, you needed to complete and submit a claim form to the Settlement Administrator so that it was received no later than March 22, 2021. The filing deadline passed on March 22, 2021 at midnight Pacific time. 

  • The SCM Fund will be distributed to Settlement Class Members who submitted timely, valid Claim and Release Forms. The payments to Settlement Class Members who submitted timely, valid Claim and Release Forms shall be determined and paid according to the following formula:

    Vehicle Forfeiture Class

    Each member of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class whose vehicle was held more than 30 days will receive for each compensable over-detention day (that is, for each day after the first 30 day grace period) $30 if their vehicle was a standard vehicle or $50 if their vehicle was a specialty vehicle (as classified by Plaintiffs’ expert based on rental car industry classifications), except that no Vehicle Forfeiture Class member whose vehicle was held more than 30 days will receive less than $250, regardless of vehicle type and number of detention days, subject to adjustment as described below.

    Each member of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class (1) whose vehicle was held more than 15 but less than 30 days; and (2) whose vehicle was not classified as evidence in the District’s EvidenceOnQ database will receive a flat payment of $250, regardless of vehicle type and regardless of the number of detention days, subject to adjustment as described below.

    Each member of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class may receive lower amounts. The portion of the SCM Fund set aside for the Vehicle Forfeiture Class shall be distributed according to the number of valid and timely Claim and Release Forms received. The amounts to be paid to members of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class (not including Class Representatives) will be adjusted if the amount to be awarded to the Vehicle Forfeiture Class based on valid Claims exceeds $1,720,637.94. In that event, the payments to members of the Vehicle Forfeiture Class will be adjusted on a pro-rated basis among valid claimants, which will result in payments lower than those set forth above.

    Forfeiture Notice Class

    Each Forfeiture Notice Class Member whose money was seized during the Class Period (and not returned by the District) will receive 75% of the amount seized by the District for forfeiture, subject to adjustment as described below.

    Each member of the Forfeiture Notice Class may receive lower amounts. The portion of the SCM Fund set aside for the Forfeiture Notice Class shall be distributed according to the number of valid and timely Claim and Release Forms received. The amounts to be paid to members of the Forfeiture Notice Class (not including Class Representatives) will be adjusted if the amount to be awarded based on valid Claims exceeds $200,000. In that event, the payments to members of the Forfeiture Notice Class will be adjusted on a pro-rated basis among valid claimants, which will result in payments lower than those set forth above.

     

    Whether a Claim is valid or not will depend on authenticating your identity according to a review of the relevant records of the D.C. Property Clerk. The proper and complete execution of your Claim and Release Form is very important to that process because it will assist finding you in the D.C. records. If you cannot be located in the relevant records, your Claim cannot be verified, and you therefore will not be paid.

    You may choose among the following three payment methods: (1) a check sent by mail; (2) an ATM card sent by mail; and (3) an electronic payment (“e-payment”) sent online using an e-payment provider or direct bank deposits. Settlement checks will be void if not cashed within ten months and amounts remaining on ATM cards after ten months and electronic payments not activated within ten months will be forfeited. You must have a bank account to receive an electronic payment and you will need to provide your bank account number and routing number.

  • To qualify for a payment from the settlement, you needed to complete and submit a claim form to the Settlement Administrator so that it was received no later than March 22, 2021. If you did not submit a claim in time, you will not receive any money, but are still bound by the Settlement.

  • No money will be paid until after the Settlement is approved and all possibilities of appeal are completed. After that, it will likely take two to three months, and quite possibly more, to process all the Claims, follow up with class members regarding any claim deficiencies, calculate the amount due to each Class Member, and send checks, ATM Cards, and electronic payments to the Class Members. If you filed a Claim and have not received money within eight months after March 22, 2021, which was the last day to mail or file a Claim, check the website for this case about when mailings are expected, or contact the Class Administrator by either calling 1-888-681-1215 or writing to the Class Administrator. Remember that some people who file Claims will not be receiving money at all because they do not qualify as class members, and those individuals will be notified that they do not qualify as Class Members.

  • If you do nothing, you will not receive any money. You will still be deemed part of the Class Action, and you will be releasing all claims you may have related to the allegations in the case. 

  • The deadline to request to be excluded, or “opt out,” from the Settlement passed on January 6, 2021. Class Members who requested to be excluded from the Settlement will NOT receive any money, nor did they release their claims.

  • If you are a Class Member and have not excluded yourself from the class, you are waiving all your rights to all claims during the class period related to seizures of vehicle or currency for civil forfeiture, including even those you are not aware of at present or do not suspect, in exchange for a monetary payment. By participating, you will not be giving up any other claim(s) that you may have against the District of Columbia that are not covered by this Settlement.

  • The deadline to object passed on January 6, 2021.

    DO NOT CALL THE COURT. THE COURT WILL NOT ACCEPT PHONE CALLS ABOUT THIS. YOU MUST HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR OBJECTIONS IN WRITING.

     

     
  • The Court has approved the plaintiffs’ lawyers to collectively represent you (called “Class Counsel”). You will not be asked to pay your own personal money for the services of these attorneys, their associates and staff in litigating this case and negotiating this Settlement. Instead, the lawyers have sought payment from the defendant, subject to final approval of the court. Only Class Counsel may act on behalf of the Class. However, that does not prevent you from hiring your own lawyer to advise you personally about your rights, options or obligations as a Class Member in this lawsuit. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • The Court ordered that Class Counsel be awarded attorneys’ fees of $1,742,923.55 and expenses of $292,118.11 for the work performed for this case.


    As explained in the notice, Class Counsel will donate $256,711.50 of the award for litigation expenses for distribution to class members ($30,000 to class representatives and $226,711.50 to the SCM Fund for other class members), so that Litigation Expenses paid out of the Settlement Amount will be reduced to $35,406.61.


    You will not personally pay any attorney’s fees or case litigation expenses.

  • The Court has approved the plaintiffs’ lawyers to collectively represent you (called “Class Counsel”). William Claiborne and Bennett B. Borden have been appointed Class Counsel in this case.  Class members do not pay any fees to these lawyers.  The fees are subject to approval by the Court.  Contact information for Class Counsel is:

    Hoyte Class Counsel William Claiborne
    Attention: Paralegal Haja Wotorson
    717 D Street, N.W., Ste 300
    Washington, D.C. 20004
    1-202-725-6063

    You will not be asked to pay your own personal money for the services of these attorneys and their associates and staff in litigating this case and negotiating this Settlement.  Instead, the lawyers have sought payment from the defendant, subject to final approval of the court.  Only Class Counsel may act on behalf of the class.  However, that does not prevent you from hiring your own lawyer to advise you personally about your rights, options or obligations as a Class Member in this lawsuit.  If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • Plaintiffs’ lawyers believe that this Agreement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and is in the best interest of the class because it provides compensation for past injuries, while acknowledging that the District has substantially eliminated the problems the lawsuit was intended to address. Although the District denies that it has committed any wrongdoing, it believes that further litigation would be protracted, expensive, and contrary to its best interests. Thus, the Parties entered into settlement negotiations which resulted in the Settlement. The Honorable Christopher R. Cooper has determined on a preliminary basis that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and in the best interests of the Class.

    The Judge will retain jurisdiction over the case to decide any disputes about compliance with the Settlement Agreement.

    The Settlement Agreement and other court documents are available on the Important Documents page of this website.

    The lawyers for the plaintiffs are William Claiborne and Bennett B. Borden. Class Members do not pay any fees to these lawyers. The fees are subject to approval by the Court. The contact information for Plaintiffs’ counsel is:
     

    Hoyte Class Counsel William Claiborne
    Attention: Paralegal Haja Wotorson
    717 D Street, N.W., Ste 300
    Washington, D.C. 20004
    1-202-725-6063

     
  • A Final Approval Hearing took place on March 9, 2021 before the Honorable Judge Christopher R. Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, virtually via video. At the final Fairness Hearing, the judge considered whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. Plaintiffs’ and defendant’s lawyers were available to answer any questions that the judge may have had.

    The Settlement was given final court approval on April 9, 2021. The Settlement is now in an appeal period. At the end of this period if no appeals have been filed, the Settlement will become “Effective” and will be finalized.

     

  • All papers filed in the case will be available on PACER.

    PACER can be accessed at pacer.uscourts.gov.

    There is no fee to create a PACER account but there is a fee to view and download documentation from the PACER website. To access this case, you will need to go to the page for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Once there enter the Case Name: Hoyte, et al. v. District of Columbia and Case No.: 13-cv-00569 to access the documents pertaining to this case.

    If you still have questions, you may call the Claims Administrator at 1-888-681-1215.

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail

Hoyte v District of Columbia
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91238
Seattle. WA 98111