Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there a Notice?
A court authorized the Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of the class action lawsuit known as Donde v. Freedom Adventures, LLC, et al., Case No. 19-cv-60785-RS (S.D. Fla.) and about all of your options before the Court decides whether to give Final Approval to the Settlement. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.
Judge Rodney Smith of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is overseeing this case. The person who sued, Aaron Donde, is called the “Plaintiff.” Freedom Franchise and Freedom Adventures, are called the “Defendants.”
What is this litigation about?
The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants sent text messages to Plaintiff’s wireless telephone number without prior express written consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 (“TCPA”) and seeks actual and statutory damages under the TCPA on behalf of the named Plaintiff and a class of all individuals in the United States.
The Defendants deny each and every allegation of wrongdoing, liability, and damages that were or could have been asserted in the litigation and that the claims in the litigation would be appropriate for class treatment if the litigation were to proceed through trial.
The Plaintiff’s Complaint, Settlement Agreement, and other case-related documents are posted here. The Settlement resolves the lawsuit. The Court has not decided who is right.
What is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act?
The TCPA is a federal law that restricts telephone solicitations and the use of automated telephone equipment.
Why is this a class action?
In a class action, the person called the “Class Representative” (in this case, Plaintiff Donde) sues on behalf of himself and other people with similar claims.
All of the people who have claims similar to the Plaintiff’s are Settlement Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class.
Why is there a settlement?
The Court has not found in favor of either Plaintiff or Defendants. Instead, both sides have agreed to a settlement. By agreeing to the Settlement, the parties avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial, and if the Settlement is approved by the Court, Settlement Class Claimants will receive the benefits described in the Notice. The Defendants deny all legal claims in this case. Plaintiff and his lawyers think the proposed Settlement is best for everyone who is affected.
WHO IS PART OF THE SETTLEMENT
Who is included in the Settlement?
The Settlement includes all persons who received a text message on their cell phone from or on behalf any of the Released Parties between, on, or after March 26, 2015, through June 25, 2020. Specifically, the Settlement is defined as:
All individuals within the United States (i) who received a text message (ii) on his or her cellular telephone number (iii) from short code 77453 or otherwise sent from or on behalf of the Released Parties (iv) from March 26, 2015 through June 25, 2020.
Persons meeting this definition are referred to collectively as the “Settlement Class” and, individually, as “Settlement Class Members.” Text messages included in the Settlement will identify “Freedom Boat Club,” “FBC,” and/or a “Freedom Boat Club” or “FBC” website.
Excluded from the Settlement Class are: (1) the district judge and magistrate judge presiding over this case, the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, their spouses, and persons within the third degree of relationship to either of them; (2) individuals who are or were during the Class Period agents, directors, employees, officers, or servants of the Released Parties; (3) Plaintiff’s counsel and their employees, and (4) all persons who file a timely and proper request to be excluded from the Settlement Class.
What if I am not sure whether I am included in the Settlement?
THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS
What does the Settlement provide?
To fully settle and release claims of the Settlement Class Members, the Defendants have agreed to make available to the Settlement Class Members an amount not to exceed $948,475.50 to cover the Claim Settlement Payments, all Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses, all Notice and Administration Costs, and any Service Award in settlement in full of this Action (the “Settlement Fund”). Each Settlement Class member who timely files with the Settlement Administrator a valid Claim Form will receive a check for an amount not to exceed $10.50, less any Notice and Administration Costs, Service Award, and Attorney’s Fees and Expenses. Although the exact amount of each claiming Settlement Class Member’s distribution has not been determined, it is estimated to be approximately $7.25.
How do I file a Claim?
If you qualify for a payment, you must complete and submit a valid Claim Form. You may submit an online Claim Form here, download a Claim Form here, or request a Claim Form by calling the Settlement Administrator toll-free at 1-877-969-1958. To be valid, a Claim Form must be completed fully and accurately, signed under penalty of perjury, and submitted timely.
You may submit a Claim Form by U.S. mail, email a Claim Form, or file a Claim Form online. If you send in a Claim Form by U.S. mail, it must be postmarked by October 27, 2020. If you file a Claim Form online or submit a Claim Form by email, then you must do so by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 27, 2020.
No matter which method you choose to file your Claim Form, please read the Claim Form carefully and provide all the information required. Only one Claim Form may be submitted per Settlement Class Member.
When will I receive my payment?
Payments to Settlement Class Members will be made only after the Court grants Final Approval to the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved (see FAQ 19). If there are appeals, resolving them can take time. Please be patient.
OPTING OUT FROM THE SETTLEMENT
If you do not want benefits from the Settlement, and you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue any one of the Released Parties on your own about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out of the Settlement. This is called opting out—or it is sometimes referred to as “excluding yourself” from the Settlement Class.
How do I get out of the Settlement?
To opt out of the Settlement, you must send a timely letter by mail to:
Freedom Franchise Systems, LLC and Freedom Adventures, LLC Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 58220
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Your request to opt out of the Settlement must be personally signed by you under penalty of perjury and contain a statement that indicates your desire to “opt out of the Settlement Class” and that, absent of excluding yourself or “opting out,” you are “otherwise a member of the Settlement Class.”
Your opt out request must be postmarked no later than October 24, 2020. You cannot opt out on the phone, by email, or at the Settlement Website.
You may opt out of the Settlement Class only for yourself.
If I do not opt out, can I sue any one of the Released Parties for the same thing later?
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to any one of the Released Parties for the claims that the Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Settlement Class in order to pursue your own lawsuit.
What am I giving up to stay in the Settlement Class?
Unless you opt out of the Settlement, you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against any one of the Released Parties about the issues in this case, including any existing litigation, arbitration, or proceeding. Unless you exclude yourself, all of the decisions and judgments by the Court will bind you.
The Settlement Agreement is available here. The Settlement Agreement provides more detail regarding the Releases and describes the Released Claims with specific descriptions in necessary, accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully. You can talk to the law firms representing the Settlement Class listed in Question 15 for free, or you can, at your own expense, talk to your own lawyer if you have any questions about the Released Claims or what they mean.
If I opt out, can I still get a payment?
No. You will not get a payment from the Settlement Fund if you opt out of the Settlement.
THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
Do I have a lawyer in the case?
The Court has appointed the following lawyers as “Class Counsel” to represent all members of the Settlement Class.
Avi R. Kaufman, Esq.
400 NW 26th Street
Miami, Florida 33127
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.
How will the lawyers be paid?
Class Counsel intends to request up to 25% of the Settlement Fund for attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of reasonable, actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the litigation. The Court will decide the amount of fees and expenses to award.
Class Counsel will also request that Service Award of $5,000.00 be paid to the Class Representative for his services as representative on behalf of the whole Settlement Class.
OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT
How do I tell the Court if I do not like the Settlement?
If you are a Settlement Class Member (and do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class), you can object to any part of the Settlement. To object, you must timely submit a letter that includes the following:
- A heading that includes the case name and case number: Donde v. Freedom Adventures, LLC, et al., Case No. 19-cv-60785-RS (S.D. Fla.).
- Your name, address, telephone number, the cell phone number at which you received text messages from short code 77453 or otherwise sent from or on behalf of any one of the Released Parties;
- A statement of all your objections to the Settlement including your legal and factual basis for each objection;
- A statement of whether you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either with or without counsel, and if with counsel, the name of your counsel who will attend;
- A list of all persons who will be called to testify at the Final Approval Hearing in support of the objection; and
- Any and all agreements that relate to the objection or the process of objecting—whether written or verbal—between you or your counsel and any other person or entity.
If you wish to object, you must file your objection with the Court (using the Court’s electronic filing system or in any manner in which the Court accepts filings) and mail your objection to each of the following three (3) addresses, and your objection must be postmarked by October 24, 2020.
Clerk of the Court Class Counsel Defendants’ Counsel United States District Court for
the Southern District of Florida
400 N. Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33128
Avi R. Kaufman, Esq., Kaufman, P.A.
400 NW 26th Street
Miami, FL 33127
Counsel for Freedom Franchise:
Adam Foslid, Esq.
Ian Ross, Esq.
Stumphauzer Foslid Sloman Ross & Kolaya, PLLC
Two South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 2550, Miami, Florida
Counsel for Freedom Adventures:
Joshua R. Alhalel, Esq.,
1 SE 3rd Avenue, Suite 1920, Miami, Florida 33131
What is the difference between objecting and opting out?
Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. You can object to the Settlement only if you do not opt out. Opting out is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement. If you opt out, you have no basis to object to the Settlement because it no longer affects you.
THE FINAL APPROVAL HEARING
The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the Settlement and any requests for fees and expenses (“Final Approval Hearing”).
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
The Court has scheduled a Final Approval Hearing on November 3, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. before the Honorable Rodney Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, at 299 East Broward Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional emailed or mailed notice, so it is a good idea to check here for updates. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court will also consider the requests by Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and for a Service Award to the Class Representative. If there are objections, the Court will consider them at that time. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. It is unknown how long these decisions will take.
Do I have to attend the hearing?
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. But, you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you send an objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you submitted your written objection on time to the proper addresses and it complies with all the other requirements set forth above, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend the hearing, but it is not necessary.
May I speak at the hearing?
You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, your timely filed objection must include a statement of whether you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing (see Question 17).
You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.
IF YOU DO NOTHING
What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you are a Settlement Class member and do nothing, meaning you do not file a timely Claim, you will not get benefits from the Settlement. Further, unless you exclude yourself, you will be bound by the judgment entered by the Court.
GETTING MORE INFORMATION
How do I get more information?
This Notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. You are urged to review more details in the Settlement Agreement. For a complete, definitive statement of the Settlement terms, refer to the Settlement Agreement here. You also may write with questions to the Settlement Administrator at Freedom Franchise Systems, LLC and Freedom Adventures, LLC Settlement Administrator, 1650 Arch Street, Suite 220, Philadelphia, PA 19103 or call the toll-free number, 1-877-969-1958.