Class Action Settlement
Class Action Settlement
Class Action Notification
Class Action Registration
Opting Out of the Class Action
Objections to the Class Action Settlement
Class Action Case Proceedings
This page provides information on the class action settlement with TSB Holdings, LLC and Big Ten Property Management, LLC. The case, Staley v. Barkalow, LACV 073821, is currently pending approval of settlement in the Johnson County District Court. Eligible class members are tenants of TSB Holdings, LLC and Big Ten Property Management, LLC, for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 lease terms.
Class Action Settlement
On March 19, 2014, Judge Russell initially ordered class certification. On March 22, 2016, Judge Turner approved composition of the class, appointed class representatives and class counsel and approved notification of the class. On April 29, 2016, the parties agreed to settlement the class action. Judge Thornhill gave final approval to the settlement on August 17, 2016 Here is the Amended Consent Decree settling the case and Judge Thornhill's order giving final approval of the settlement.
The Consent Decree provides for a base payment of $65 per year for each tenant, attorney fees and for a two year consent decree in which Big Ten Property Management and TSB Holdings are under court order to obey the Landlord Tenant Act. If within the two year period, the Tenants' Project wins a case against Big Ten Property Management or TSB Holdings, they will pay the Tenants' Project's fees. Class Members can register for the class award. Class members must register by December 15, 2016!
Class Action Notification
Here is the complete class notification of settlement as approved by the Court:
Staley v. Barkalow, case no. LACV073821, is a case brought by the Iowa Tenants' Project on behalf of tenants in Johnson County District Court that challenges a variety of provisions in Big Ten Property Management's 2010-12 standard lease. The Court ruled on the standard lease that Big Ten Property Management had in effect for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 lease terms. The Johnson County District Court granted summary judgment and ruled that that lease provisions that removed the landlord's liability, provided for automatic carpet cleaning, requiring tenants to pay for all damages to common areas, and charging tenants other than actual costs and damages were all prohibited under the Iowa Landlord Tenant Act. The Court also certified Staley v. Barkalow as a class action and later appointed Brooke Staley and Tyler Lammer as Class Representatives and Christopher Warnock and Christine Boyer as Class Counsel.
Ms. Burke & Mr. Lammer, as class representatives, with the advice and assistance of Class Counsel, has agreed with the Defendants, to settle the case. You can see the complete proposed settlement at ictenantsclassaction.com/barkalow.html Because this is a class action, the Court must approve any settlement and ensure that it is reasonable and fair for all class members. The Court has preliminarily approved the settlement and has set a fairness hearing for 10 a.m. on August 17, 2016 at the Johnson County Courthouse to determine whether to finally approve the settlement. You can see the Amended Consent Decree and the Court's preliminary settlement order.
The proposed settlement provides for a Class Award of $10,400 which is intended to provide a base payment of $65 per tenant for each lease term based on 160 total tenants, during the two annual lease terms that the standard lease was in effect. Thus if a class member was a tenant for 2010-11 and 2011-12 they would receive $130. If there are less than 160 registered the remaining funds will be given to a mutually agreed charity. If there are more than 160 eligible registered Class Members, the base payment will be reduced on a pro rata basis.
The $65 payment was arrived at by considering the following factors:
(1) This class action involves only damages due to prohibited lease provisions because all class members must have had the same injury. Charges, particularly security deposit deductions that were made on an individual basis, for example charges for cleaning a particular unit, or charges for damage to a particular unit, cannot be recovered in a class action. Tenants are free, however, to pursue their own cases for individual damages which are not affected by this class action.
(2) The parties believe that, of the provisions found to be prohibited by the Court, the automatic carpet cleaning provision was charged most frequently, other charges were made on a much more sporadic basis.
(3) The parties believe that $65 is a reasonable, overall compromise payment.
(4) Another issue is that some tenants vacated their units with carpets that were dirty beyond normal wear and tear and Defendants were legally permitted to charge them for carpet cleaning.
(5) Another issue is that while the district court found automatic carpet cleaning clauses to be prohibited, the issue is currently on appeal before the Iowa Supreme Court in DeStefano v. Apts Downtown, 14-0820.
(6) While punitive damages could potentially be awarded under the Iowa Landlord Tenant act, §562A.11, in order for punitive damages to be awarded the landlord must have knowingly and willfully used the prohibited provisions. Defendants dispute that the provisions, if prohibited, were used knowingly and willfully. In addition, the issue of the proper standard for knowing and willful use is currently pending before the Iowa Supreme Court in Caruso v. Apts Downtown, 14-1783.
(7) The Consent Decree, to be entered by the Court, requires that if the Tenants' Project prevails in a landlord tenant case against Defendants, that Defendants will pay the Tenants' Project resolution fee of per $150 a hour capped at one month's rent.
(8) In addition as part of the settlement Defendants have conferred with the Tenants Project and removed all prohibited provisions from their leases and will notify the Tenants' Project of any changes to their leases.
Based on all these factors, the parties believe that the proposed settlement and class member payments are fair and reasonable. If the Court approves settlement, class members would be bound by it as far as any claims for actual or punitive damages or attorney fees for the use of prohibited lease provisions, but not for claims that must be proven on a case by case basis or any claims for wrongfully withholding security deposits other than under prohibited provisions.
Defendants has agreed to pay all court costs, plus $500 for the costs of notification and of the claims process in addition to the class payments.
Class counsel's fees are determined by the Court. Under the settlement agreement attorney fees will not be paid from the class payment, but Class Counsel will seek an award of attorney fees under the Landlord Tenant Act. The Landlord Tenant Act does not permit contingency fees, but requires that fees be reasonable and calculated as hourly fees. Defendants have agreed that $250 per hour as attorney fees is reasonable and that 60 hours for Christopher Warnock as lead counsel ($15,000) and 10 hours for Christine Boyer as co-counsel ($2,500) are reasonable for work done in the case.
Class members have the right to opt-out of the settlement. If they opt out of the settlement they are not bound by it, but will not receive the class member payment of $65 per year of tenancy. Class members can opt-out online Class member must opt out within 120 days after the Court’s final approval of the settlement.
Class members may object to the settlement and may appear at the fairness hearing at 10 a.m. on August 17, 2016 at the Johnson County Courthouse. You can ask the Court to deny approval of the settlement by filing an objection. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no settlement payments will be sent out and the lawsuit will continue. You can object by sending using the Notice of Objections and instructions You can also appear at the fairness hearing by sending using the Notice of Intention to Appear and instructions. Both notices of objection and notice to appear must be received by Class Counsel twenty one days before the fairness hearing.
Class members can register and start the claims process No payments can be made unless and until the Court approves the settlement. Eligible Class Members may begin registration immediately and must have completed registration by 120 days after the Court's final approval of settlement.
PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK’S OFFICE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT OR THE CLAIM PROCESS. Go to ictenantsclassaction.com/barkalow.html for further information.
Class Action Registration
Class member need to register in order to receive the Class Award. You can register immediately and must register by December 15, 2016 which is 120 days after the Court's final approval of the settlement in order to receive a class award. Please download the registration form fill it out and e-mail it to email@example.com Please put "Staley v Barkalow Class Action Registration" in the subject line of the e-mail. You need to know the building or house address and unit number, if applicable for each year of tenancy in order to register. Upon request by the Tenants' Project, prospective class members must provide proof of residence.
Opting out of the Class Action
If you do not wish to be part of the class, you have a right to opt out. If you opt out you will not be bound by the judgment and can pursue your case by yourself or with your own lawyer. If you opt out you will not receive any class damages, awards or settlement funds. Please download the opt out form fill it out and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org Please put "Staley v Barkalow Class Action Opt Out" in the subject line of the e-mail. You need to know the building or house address and unit number, if applicable for each year of tenancy in order to opt out. Opt out forms must be received by Class Counsel within 120 days after final approval by the Court of the settlement.
Objecting to the Settlement
Class members may object to the settlement and may appear at the fairness hearing at 10 a.m. on August 17, 2016 at the Johnson County Courthouse. You can ask the Court to deny approval of the settlement by filing an objection. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no settlement payments will be sent out and the lawsuit will continue. You can object by filing out a Notice of Objections and e-mailing it to Class Counsel at email@example.com You can also appear at the fairness hearing by sending filing out the Notice of Intention to Appear and e-mailing it to Class Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org Both notices of objections and intention to appear must be received by Class Counsel twenty one days before the final approval hearing.
Class Action Case Proceedings
On October 3, 2011, the Tenants' Project filed a class action, Staley v. Barkalow, case # LACV073821, in the Johnson County District Court, challenging illegal provisions in the landlord's lease and asking for class certification. The original motion was denied and the Tenants' Project appealed.
On May 30, 2013 in Staley v. Barkalow, 834 N.W.2d 873 (Iowa Ct. App. 2013) the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision finding that landlords could not include illegal provisions in their leases and ordering that a class action be certified. Here is the Staley v. Barkalow decision.
On March 19, 2014 on the remand of Staley v. Barkalow, LACV 073821, 6th District Judge Russell issued a landmark 13 page Ruling certifying a class action and finding many clauses in the landlord's standard lease to be illegal including indemnity and exculpation clauses, automatic carpet cleaning, making tenants responsible for vandalism and invalidating all fines, penalties and charges that exceed actual damages. Here is the March 21, 2014 Press Citizen story and March 21, 2014 Associated Press story as well as the March 21, 2014 KCRG News story and March 22, 2014 KWWL Top Story. Here is the Daily Iowan March 24, 2014 News Story and Daily Iowan March 24, 2014 Editorial .
On March 22, 2016, Judge Turner approved composition of the class, appointed class representatives and class counsel and approved notification of the class. Here is Judge Turner's Order.
On April 29, 2016, the parties agreed to settle the case. The Court approved the settlement on August 17, 2016. Class members have until December 15, 2016 to register and receive a class award.
For further information go to the Iowa Tenants' Project Contact Page