The Court authorized this notice to let you know about a proposed Settlement with Whitepages. You have legal rights and options that you may act on before the Court decides whether to approve the proposed Settlement. You may be eligible to receive a cash payment as part of the Settlement. This notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.
Judge Gary S. Feinerman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is overseeing this class action. The case is called Butler v. Whitepages, Inc., No. 19-cv-4871. The people who filed the lawsuit, Fatima Butler and Julia Scholz-Pinger, are the Plaintiffs. The company they sued, Whitepages, Inc., is the Defendant.
A class action is a lawsuit in which an individual or individuals called “Class Representatives” bring a single lawsuit on behalf of other people who have similar legal claims. All of these people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” Once a Settlement Class is certified, a class action Settlement finally approved by the Court resolves the issues for all Settlement Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the settlement classes.
Defendant runs a website that provides directory services, including various information about people. It’s free to search any person’s first and last name, which results in a free preview of the information potentially related to the person searched. Subscriptions are available via the website. The Illinois Right of Publicity Act, 765 ILCS 1075/1, et seq. and Ohio Revised Code § 2741.01, et. seq. prohibit using a person’s name, age, contact information, former residence locations, list of possible relatives, likeness, photograph, image, or other identifying information to advertise, promote, or in connection with an offer for the sale of any of its products or services without written consent. This lawsuit alleges that Whitepages violated the Illinois Right of Publicity Act and Ohio Revised Code § 2741.01 by allegedly displaying Illinois or Ohio residents’ individual details on the preview pages on Whitepages.com in response to a search on the website and, once those individuals’ names were clicked on, selling the searcher a subscription to Whitepages between May 7, 2019 and January 27, 2022. The Illinois Right of Publicity Act provides for $1,000 damages per violation and the Ohio Revised code provides $2,500 to $10,000 damages per violation. Whitepages denies that it violated any law.
More information about Plaintiff’s complaint in the lawsuit and the Defendant’s defenses can be found in the “Court Documents” section of the settlement website here
You are a member of the settlement classes if you have a primary Illinois or Ohio residential address, had your individual detail pages displayed on Whitepages.com in response to a search on the website, and had your name clicked on between May 7, 2019 and January 27, 2022 where the searcher during that same site visit purchased a subscription. If you received a notice of the Settlement via email or in the mail, our records indicate that you are a class member and are included in the Settlement. You may call or email the Settlement Administrator at (855) 619-9576 or firstname.lastname@example.org to ask whether you are a member of the Illinois Settlement Class or the Ohio Settlement Class.
Cash Payments. If you’re eligible, you can file a claim to receive a cash payment. The amount of such payment will depend on whether you are in the Illinois Settlement Class or the Ohio Settlement Class, because the laws provide different amounts of damages. Payments to Illinois Settlement Class Members who submit a valid Claim Form are estimated to be $125 to $245, and payments to Ohio Settlement Class Members who submit a valid Claim Form are estimated to be $315 to $630, but the settlement payments could be more or less depending on the number of valid claims submitted. These will be a pro rata, or equal, share of either a $1,208,440 fund that Whitepages agreed to create for Illinois residents, or of a $2,864,200 fund that Whitepages agreed to create for Ohio residents, after the payment of settlement expenses, attorneys’ fees, and any incentive award for the Class Representatives approved by the Court.
Prospective Relief. Under the settlement, Whitepages has agreed not to display the name of any Class Member whose residence, according to Defendant’s database, remains in Illinois or Ohio, on any page on its website that includes a subscription offer after the date of entry of a Final Approval Order and to refrain from doing so for a period of three years after entry of a Final Approval Order.
If you are an Illinois Settlement Class Member or an Ohio Settlement Class Member and you want to get a payment, you must complete and submit a valid Claim Form by August 24, 2022. If you received an email notice, it contained a link to the online Claim Form, which is also available on this website here and can be filled out and submitted online. The online claim form lets you select to receive your payment by Venmo, Zelle, Paypal, or check. A paper Claim Form with pre-paid postage was attached to the postcard notice you may have received in the mail. Those who submit a paper Claim Form will receive a check by mail, if the claim is approved.
The Claim Form requires you to provide the following information: (i) full name, (ii) current U.S. Mail address, and (iii) current contact telephone number.
Depending on the number of valid claims submitted, Ohio Settlement Class Members, but not Illinois Settlement Class Members, may need to complete an IRS Form W-9 to satisfy tax reporting obligations. Ohio Settlement Class Members may complete the Form W-9 here; doing so now will ensure that Ohio Settlement Class Members receive full payment as soon as possible.
The hearing to consider the fairness of the Settlement is scheduled for September 28, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. If the Court approves the Settlement, Class Members whose claims were approved by the Settlement Administrator and, if necessary, who have completed a Form W-9 on the settlement website, will be issued a check or electronic payment (as chosen by the Class Member) within 28 days after the Settlement Effective Date. Please be patient. Uncashed checks and electronic payments that are unable to be completed will expire and become void 180 days after they are issued and will revert to their respective settlement fund to be distributed pro rata to claiming class members or in a manner as otherwise directed by the Court upon application made by Class Counsel.
Yes, the Court has appointed lawyers from the law firms Edelson PC, Bursor & Fisher, PA, and Beaumont Costales LLC as the attorneys to represent you and other Class Members. These attorneys are called “Class Counsel.” In addition, the Court appointed Plaintiffs Fatima Butler and Julia Scholz-Pinger to serve as the Class Representatives. They are Class Members like you. Class Counsel can be reached by calling 1-866-354-3015.
You don’t need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. You may hire your own lawyer, but if you do so, you will have to pay that lawyer.
Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys’ fees and expenses of up to 35% of each settlement fund, and will also request an incentive award of $1,000 for each Class Representative from the settlement fund associated with the class they represent. If the Settlement is finally approved, the Court will determine the proper amount of any attorneys’ fees and expenses to award Class Counsel and the proper amount of any award to the Class Representatives. The Court may award less than the amounts requested.
If you do nothing, you will receive no money from the Settlement Fund, but you will still be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court. Unless you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you will not be able to file or continue a lawsuit against Whitepages or other Released Parties regarding any of the Released Claims. Submitting a valid and timely Claim Form is the only way to receive a payment from this Settlement.
You may exclude yourself from the Settlement. If you do so, you will not receive any cash payment, but you will not release any claims you may have against the Released Parties (as that term is defined in the Settlement Agreement) and are free to pursue whatever legal rights you may have by pursuing your own lawsuit against the Released Parties at your own risk and expense.
You can mail or email a letter stating that you want to be excluded from the Settlement. Your letter must: (a) be in writing; (b) identify the case name, Butler v. Whitepages, Inc., No. 19-cv-4871 (N.D. Ill.); (c) identify if the person seeking exclusion is a member of the Illinois Settlement Class or the Ohio Settlement Class; (d) state the full name and current address of the person in the Settlement Class seeking; (e) be signed by the person(s) seeking exclusion; and (f) be postmarked or received by the Settlement Administrator on or before August 24, 2022. Each request for exclusion must also contain a statement to the effect that “I hereby request to be excluded from the proposed Settlement Class in Butler v. Whitepages, Inc., No. 19-cv-4871 (N.D. Ill.).” You must mail or e-mail your exclusion request no later than August 24, 2022 to:
Butler v. Whitepages, Inc.
PO Box 25415
Santa Ana, CA 92799
You can’t exclude yourself over the phone. No person may request to be excluded from the Settlement Class through “mass” or “class” opt-outs.
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Whitepages and any other Released Party for the claims being resolved by this Settlement.
No. If you exclude yourself, you will not receive a payment.
If you do not exclude yourself from either settlement class, you can object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can give reasons why you think the Court should deny approval by filing an objection. To object, you must file a letter or brief with the Court stating that you object to the Settlement in Butler v. Whitepages, Inc., No. 19-cv-4871 (N.D. Ill.), no later than August 24, 2022. Your objection must be e-filed or delivered to the Court at the following address:
Clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court is accepting filings from pro se litigants via email. Instructions on how to file via email can be found here.
The objection must be in writing, must be signed, and must include the following information: (a) your full name and current address, (b) a statement that you believe you are a member of the Illinois Settlement Class or the Ohio Settlement Class, (c) whether the objection applies only to the objector, to a specific subset of the Illinois Settlement Class or the Ohio Settlement Class, or to the entire Illinois Settlement Class or the Ohio Settlement Class, (d) the specific grounds for your objection, (e) all documents or writings that you wish the Court to consider, (f) the name and contact information of any attorneys representing, advising, or in any way assisting you in connection with the preparation or submission of the objection or who may profit from the pursuit of the objection, and (g) a statement indicating whether you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing. If you hire an attorney in connection with making an objection, that attorney must file an appearance with the Court or seek pro hac vice admission to practice before the Court, and electronically file the objection by the objection deadline of August 24, 2022. If you do hire your own attorney, you will be solely responsible for payment of any fees and expenses the attorney incurs on your behalf. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you cannot file an objection.
Class Counsel will file with the Court and post on the settlement website its request for attorneys’ fees and incentive awards on August 10, 2022.
Objecting simply means telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class as an Illinois Settlement Class Member or Ohio Settlement Class Member. Excluding yourself from the either settlement class is telling the Court that you don’t want to be an Illinois Settlement Class Member or an Ohio Settlement Class Member. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.
The Court will hold the Final Approval Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on September 28, 2022 before the Honorable Gary S. Feinerman in Room 2141 at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, or via remote means as instructed by the Court. The purpose of the hearing is for the Court to determine whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the class. At the hearing, the Court will hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the proposed Settlement, including those related to the amount requested by Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and the incentive award to the Class Representatives.
UPDATE: The Court has provided the following instructions to attend the final approval hearing telephonically:
Attorneys/Parties should appear for the hearing by calling the Toll−Free Number: (877) 336−1828, Access Code: 4082461. Members of the public and media will be able to call in to listen to this hearing (use toll free number). Please, please be sure to keep your phone on mute when you are not speaking. Persons granted remote access to proceedings are reminded of the general prohibition against photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings. Violation of these prohibitions may result in sanctions, including removal of court issued media credentials, restricted entry to future hearings, denial of entry to future hearings, or any other sanctions deemed necessary by the Court.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. 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 your written objection was filed or mailed on time and meets the other criteria described in the Court's Preliminary Approval Order, the Court will consider it. You may also pay a lawyer to attend, but you don’t have to.
Yes. If you do not exclude yourself, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the hearing concerning any part of the proposed Settlement. If you filed an objection (see Questions 16 and 17 above) and intend to appear at the hearing, you must state your intention to do so in your objection.
This notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details, including the Settlement Agreement and other documents are available at www.WhitepagesRightofPublicity.com or at the Clerk’s Office in the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays and any closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also contact Class Counsel at 1-866-354-3015 with any questions.
Although, under the settlement, Whitepages has agreed not to display the name of any Class Member whose residence, according to Defendant’s database, remains in Illinois or Ohio on any page on its website that includes a subscription offer to Defendant’s products or services after the date of entry of a Final Approval Order or May 31, 2022, whichever is later, and to refrain from doing so for a period of three years after entry of a Final Approval Order, your name may still appear on any page on Whitepages’ website that does not include a subscription offer to Defendant’s products or services.
If you would like to remove your information from Whitepages, you can submit a request through https://www.whitepages.com/suppression-requests. First, visit www.whitepages.com and search for your listing by typing your name and city in the search box. If you find your listing, click on “View Details,” not on “View Full Report.” Copy the URL of your listing. Then, visit https://www.whitepages.com/suppression-requests. Paste the URL of your listing, click “next,” and complete the prompts as directed. Removal requests may take up to fourteen days to process.
No. Your choice to remove your information from Whitepages has no bearing on your ability to collect from this Settlement. Removing your information from Whitepages is not the same as excluding yourself from the settlement. These opt out processes are available to all individuals with a Whitepages listing whether or not they are settlement class members. These processes are not related to this Settlement in any way.