Rocchio, et. al. v. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Rutgers Student Fee Settlement
Case No. MID-L-003039-20

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • The lawsuit alleges that persons who paid Rutgers for on-campus tuition/fees for the Spring 2020 semester are entitled to pro rata refunds of those tuition, fees, and other charges because Rutgers transitioned to remote learning in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with New Jersey State mandates. Rutgers denies each and every allegation of wrongdoing, liability, and damages asserted, and Rutgers denies that the claims in the Action would be appropriate for class treatment if the litigation proceeded through trial. The Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims, holding that Rutgers has statutory immunity from them. Plaintiffs appealed from that dismissal and Rutgers and the Plaintiffs settled to resolve the Plaintiffs’ appeal.

    The Plaintiffs’ Complaint, the Settlement Agreement, and other case-related documents are available on this website at the Important Documents page.

  • A class action is a lawsuit in which one or more persons called a “Class Representative” sues on behalf of people with similar claims. These people together are a “Settlement Class” or “Settlement Class Members.” The Settlement was approved by the Court and resolved the issues for all Settlement Class Members, except for those who excluded themselves from the Settlement Class by January 7, 2022.

  • The Plaintiffs and Rutgers have determined that it is in their best interests to settle to avoid the expenses and uncertainties associated with continued litigation. This Settlement resolves all claims asserted in the case against Rutgers and its affiliated entities. The Settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by Rutgers and does not imply that there has been, or would be, any finding that Rutgers violated any law if the case were to move forward. Rutgers denies each and every allegation of wrongdoing and liability in the Action.

    At the time notice was sent, the Court had preliminarily approved the Settlement. Nevertheless, because the settlement of a class action determines the rights of all members of the class, the court overseeing these lawsuits must give final approval to the Settlement before it can be effective. The Court had conditionally certified the Settlement Class for settlement purposes only, so that Settlement Class Members received a notice and had the opportunity to exclude themselves from the Settlement Class or to voice their support for or opposition to final approval of the Settlement. If the Court had not given final approval to the Settlement, or if it was terminated by the Parties, the Settlement would have been void, and the lawsuit would have proceed as if there had been no settlement and no certification of the Settlement Class.

  • You are a member of the Settlement Class if you paid to Defendant Spring 2020 Semester fees of any type or amount, unless you already received refunds for your Spring 2020 fees or if you opted out of the Settlement.

  • The $5 million settlement fund, minus any attorneys’ fee for Plaintiffs’ counsel, incentive awards for the two named plaintiffs of up to $2,500 each, and the costs of administering the settlement, will be divided equally among all Settlement Class Members. The parties expect the payment to be in the range of $50-$70 per recipient.

  • You do not need to take any action to receive your share of the settlement.  All Students (Active and Inactive) will automatically receive their shares by check mailed to the Settlement Class Member’s last known mailing address.   If any Settlement Class Members fail to cash their benefit checks, those monies will be deposited in the Rutgers COVID-19 Dean of Students Emergency Fund

    The deadline to file an Election Form on the Settlement Website to receive your payment by Venmo or PayPal was April 8, 2022, and has passed.

    Payments are currently estimated to be distributed on May 20, 2022.

  • The Settlement Benefits will be distributed after the Court grants Final Approval to the Settlement. On January 28, 2022, the Court granted Final Approval to the Settlement. After any appeals are resolved, all eligible class members will receive their cash payment within sixty (60) days of the Court’s order. Payments are currently estimated to be distributed on May 20, 2022.

    Updated information about the case will be made available on this website or can be requested by contacting Class Counsel or call the Settlement Administrator at 1-877-379-5989.

  • Unless you excluded yourself from the Settlement by January 7,2022, you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against Rutgers about the issues in this case. This specifically includes any claim for breach of contract or any tort or common law claim relating to Rutgers’ transition to remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you chose not to exclude yourself, all of the decisions and judgments by the Court will bind you.

    The Settlement Agreement is available on this website at the Important Documents page. 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. If you have any questions, you can talk for free to the attorneys identified below who have been appointed by the Court to represent the Settlement Class, or you are welcome to talk to any other lawyer of your choosing at your own expense.

  • The Court has approved these attorneys to represent the Settlement Class. They are called “Class Counsel.” You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

     

    James E. Cecchi, Esq.
    James A. O’Brien, Esq.
    Caroline Bartlett, Esq.
    Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Angello, P.C.
    5 Becker Farm Road
    Roseland, New Jersey 07068
    T: (973) 994-1700
    Email: 
    JCecchi@carellabyrne.com
    jobrien@carellabyrne.com
    cbartlett@carellabyrne.com
     

    Philip L. Fraietta, Esq.
    Bursor & Fisher, P.A.
    888 Seventh Avenue
    New York, NY 10019
    T: (646) 837-7142
    Email:
    pfraietta@bursor.com
     

    Steve W. Berman, Esq.
    Daniel J. Kurowski, Esq.
    Whitney K. Siehl, Esq.
    Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP
    1301 Second Avenue, Suite 2000
    Seattle, WA 98101
    T: (206) 623-7292
    Email:
    steve@hbsslaw.com
    dank@hbsslaw.com
    whitneys@hbsslaw.com
     

     

  • The attorneys who brought the lawsuit will ask the Court to award them attorneys’ fees of up to one-third of the total Settlement Fund, plus reimbursement of Class Counsel’s costs and expenses incurred on behalf of Plaintiffs and the Class, for the time, expense and effort expended in investigating the facts, litigation, and negotiating the Settlement.

    Court may award reasonable incentive compensation to the Class Representatives for their service in the case, not to exceed Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500) each, which shall come from the Settlement Fund. Any such Court-ordered compensation shall be paid within twenty (20) business days after the Effective Date. This shall be in addition to any benefits that the Class Representatives may receive as Settlement Class Members.

  • The deadline to exclude yourself from the settlement was January 7, 2022 and has passed.

  • No. Unless you excluded yourself by January 7,2022, you gave up any right to sue the Defendant for the claims being resolved by this Settlement.

  • No. If you exclude yourself, you will not receive any payment from the Settlement Fund.

  • The deadline to object to the settlement was January 7, 2022 and has passed.

    IF YOU DID NOT TIMELY AND VALIDLY MAKE YOUR OBJECTION, YOU WILL BE DEEMED TO HAVE WAIVED ALL OBJECTIONS AND WILL NOT BE ENTITLED TO SPEAK AT THE FINAL APPROVAL HEARING.

  • Objecting simply means telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself from the Class is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class. If you excluded yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.

  • The Court has already granted Preliminary Approval of the Settlement. A final hearing on the Settlement, called a final approval or fairness hearing, has been held to determine the fairness of the Settlement. At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court considered whether to make final the certification of the Settlement Class for settlement purposes, heard any proper objections and arguments to the Settlement, as well as any requests for an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses and Incentive Awards for the Plaintiffs that may have been sought by Class Counsel. The Court held the Final Approval Hearing on January 28, 2022, and approved the Settlement.

    The Settlement was given Final Approval, but the Court did not make any determination as to the merits of the claims or defenses at issue. Instead, the Settlement’s terms will take effect and the lawsuit was dismissed on the merits with prejudice. Both sides have agreed to the Settlement to achieve an early and certain resolution to the lawsuit, so it provides specific and valuable benefits to the members of the Settlement Class.

    If Final Approval is reversed on appeal, or if the Settlement does not become final for some other reason, Plaintiffs, Rutgers, and the Class Members will be in the same position as they were before the execution of the Settlement, and the Settlement will have no legal effect, no class will remain certified (conditionally or otherwise), and Plaintiffs and Rutgers will continue to litigate the lawsuit. There can be no assurance that, if the Settlement is not approved, the Settlement Class will recover more than is provided in the Settlement, or indeed, anything at all.

  • The Notice is only a summary of the Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement which, along with other documents, can be obtained on the Important Documents page. If you have any questions, you can also contact Class Counsel at the numbers or email addresses provided in FAQ 9 or call the Settlement Administrator at 1-877-379-5989. Besides the documents available on this website, all pleadings and documents filed in court may be reviewed or copied in the Office of the Clerk.

    Please do not contact the Judge or the Clerk of the Court about this case. They cannot give you advice on your options.

  • You received an update to the emailed notice at the end of February because Rutgers University determined that it would award all class members cash payments, rather than awarding active students a credit toward their next tuition/fee bill. We notified all class members that the Election Form Deadline is extended to April 8, 2022 to give all Class Members a chance to file an Election Form, if they wished.

For More Information

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

Mail
Rutgers Student Fee Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91345
Seattle, WA 98111