Corker, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al.
Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement
2:19-cv-00290-RSL

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Records show that you farmed Kona coffee in the Kona District and sold Kona coffee between February 27, 2015, and October 4, 2022. For more details, please refer to FAQ 3 below.

    The Court sent you the Notice to inform you of a new Proposed Settlement in the class action lawsuit Corker, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., et al., No. 1:19-cv-00290, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. The Notice outlines the terms of the Proposed Settlement, who is a Settlement Class Member, your right to remain a member of the Settlement Class in the Settlements, how Settlement funds will be paid, how to comment on or object to the Settlement, and how to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class in any of the new Settlements.

    Judge Lasnik of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington is overseeing this class action.

    Those who brought the lawsuit are the “Plaintiffs,” and the parties being sued are the “Defendants.” As noted above, there were other Defendants in this lawsuit who had not reached settlements with the Plaintiffs at the time this notice was issued. Those Defendants not included in these Settlements are not part of the new Settlements. There are also other Defendants who previously reached settlements with the Plaintiffs. Notice of those settlements was previously sent to you.

  • Plaintiffs allege that L&K advertised, falsely designated, and/or sold coffee as originating from the Kona region in violation of the federal Lanham Act. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages and other relief allowed under the Lanham Act.

    Although L&K denies Plaintiffs’ claims for liability and damages, they have agreed to settle the class action to avoid the time and expense of continuing the lawsuit.

    A more complete description of the lawsuit is available on the Important Documents page, or in the file for the lawsuit maintained by the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. See FAQ 17, below. Additionally, should you have questions regarding the lawsuit, you can submit them in writing to Class Counsel at the addresses provided under FAQ 13.

    The Court has not ruled in favor of Plaintiffs or L&K. Instead, both sides agreed to the Proposed Settlement before the case proceeded to a trial. Plaintiffs and their counsel believe that the Settlements are best for all members of the Settlement Class.

  • The Settlement Class includes all persons and entities who, between February 27, 2015, and October 4, 2022, farmed Kona coffee in the Kona District and then sold their Kona coffee.

    Excluded from the Settlement Class are the Settling Defendants, any Judges to whom the case is assigned, and their immediate families and staffs.

    If you are a Settlement Class Member and the Judge approves the Proposed Settlement, you will be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court and by the Court’s final resolution of the Settlement Class claims in the lawsuit.

  • If you are still not sure if you are part of the Settlement Class, please review the Important Documents page for more information, email info@KonaCoffeeSettlement.com or call (toll-free) 1-833-667-1227. You may also contact Class Counsel (See FAQ 9).

    Please do not contact the Court. 

  • The Proposed Settlement provides money for Settlement Class Members and requires L&K to modify the label of coffee products labeled as containing beans originating from the Kona region.

    Under the Proposed Settlement, L&K will make a total payment of $6,150,000. The Settlement Amount will be distributed to Settlement Class Members on a pro-rata basis (as calculated by Settlement Class Members’ reported sales volumes), less Court-awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses and service awards to the Class Representatives, and less any voluntary contributions for the benefit of the Kona region.

    If you previously submitted a claim for payment in connection with the prior settlements, you did not need to re-submit your information. However, if you did not make a prior claim, you will need to submit a claim form to receive a payment in the Proposed Settlement at a later time. You will be notified when the deadline to submit your claim form for payment is determined.

    In exchange for the benefits received by the Class, L&K will be released from claims the Settlement Class Members may have against them relating to the claims asserted in the lawsuit, including claims relating to the Settling Defendants’ labeling of coffee products that use the word “Kona.”

  • If you want to remain a Settlement Class Member, you do not need to take any action. However, if you want to receive your payment from the Settlement and did not submit a claim in connection with the prior settlements, you will need to submit a claim form at a later time to be determined (see FAQ 5 above). Class Counsel will represent your interests as a member of the Settlement Class. You have the right to retain your own counsel, but do not have to do so.

  • If you don’t want to be in the Settlement Class and you want to keep the right to sue the Settling Defendants about the same claims on your own, you must take steps to get out of the Settlement Class. This is called excluding yourself from or “opting out of” the Settlement Class. By excluding yourself, you keep the right to file your own lawsuit. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you will not receive any benefits from the Proposed Settlement.

  • To exclude yourself from (“opt out of”) the Settlement Class, you must send a letter personally signed by you that includes all of the following:

    1. Your name, address, and telephone number;The following Civil Action Number: 2:19-cv-000290; and
    2. A statement that you want to be excluded from the Settlement Class.

    Your request for exclusion letter must be mailed first class, postage pre-paid, postmarked on or before January 10, 2023, to:

    Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91232
    Seattle, WA 98111

    You cannot exclude yourself from only part of a Settlement or Settlement Class. If you previously excluded yourself from the prior set of settlements and wish to exclude yourself from this settlement, you need to send a new, signed exclusion request. Also, please remember that you can’t exclude yourself by phone or by sending an email.

  • The Court has appointed the following law firms to represent the Settlement Class:

    Nathan T. Paine
    Karr Tuttle Campbell
    701 5th Ave, Suite 3300
    Seattle, WA 98104

    Jason L. Lichtman
    Daniel E. Seltz
    Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann
    & Bernstein, LLP
    250 Hudson St., 8th Floor
    New York, NY 10013

    Andrew R. Kaufman
    Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann
    & Bernstein LLP
    222 2nd Ave South, Suite 1640
    Nashville, TN 37201

    These lawyers are called “Class Counsel.” You do not have to directly pay Class Counsel. If you want your own lawyer, and to have that lawyer appear in court, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • Class Counsel will request that the Court award Class Counsel reimbursement of litigation expenses, as well as fees not to exceed one-third percent of the settlement fund, with the total request not to exceed $3 million. Class Counsel will also request service awards of $2,500 to each of the farms serving as class representatives. The Court, at its own discretion, may award less than these requested amounts without further notice to the Settlement Class Members. Any attorneys’ fees, expenses, and service awards awarded by the Court will be paid from the Settlement Funds.

    Again, if you choose to hire your own attorney, you are responsible for that attorney’s fees and expenses.

  • You don’t need to hire your own lawyer, but you may elect to do so. If you want your own lawyer to speak for you or to appear in Court, you or your lawyer must file a Notice of Appearance. FAQ 16 explains how to submit a Notice of Appearance. If you hire a lawyer to appear for you in the lawsuit, you will have to pay that lawyer on your own.

    You should also consult your own tax advisor regarding the tax consequences to you of the proposed Settlement, including, without limitation, any tax reporting obligations you may have with respect to the proposed Settlement.

  • If the Proposed Settlement is approved, the Court will appoint Plaintiffs Bruce Corker d/b/a Randho Aloha, Colehour Bondera and Melanie Bondera d/b/a Kanalani Ohana Farm, Robert Smith and Cecelia Smith d/b/a Smithfarms, and Smithfarms LLC as Class Representatives. The Class Representatives work with Class Counsel on behalf of all Settlement Class Members to present the views of Settlement Class Members to Class Counsel and the Court. The Class Representatives may each be entitled to a Service Award, not to exceed $2,500 per farm, if approved by the Court.

  • If you have comments about, or disagree with, any aspect of the Proposed Settlement, including the requested attorneys’ fees, you may express your views to the Court through a written response to the Proposed Settlement. Only Settlement Class Members who have not opted out can object or comment. The written comment or objection should include your name, address, and telephone number. In addition, any objection must include (a) a written statement of your objection, (b) a written statement of the grounds or reasons for your objection, (c) copies of any papers, briefs, or other documents supporting your objection, and (d) a statement that that it relates to Civil Action Number: 2:19-cv-000290. The document must be signed to ensure the Court’s review. In order to be considered by the Court, your comment or objection must be postmarked on or before January 10, 2023, and mailed to:

    Clerk of the Court
    United States District Court, Western District of Washington
    700 Stewart Street, Suite 2310
    Seattle, WA 98101

    Your comment or objection must also be mailed to the following attorneys:

    Class Counsel
    Jason L. Lichtman
    Daniel E. Seltz
    Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
    250 Hudson St., 8th Floor
    New York, NY 10013

  • The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing to consider whether the Proposed Settlement are fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Hearing will be on February 16, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Time) by remote means. A link to the proceedings will be posted on the Settlement Website as soon as it is available. At the Hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Proposed Settlement and the motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses. If comments or objections have been received, the Court will consider them at this time.

    Note: The Hearing may be postponed to a different date without additional notice. Settlement Class Members should check this website to confirm that the date has not been changed.

  • Attendance is not required, even if you properly mailed a written objection or comment. Class Counsel is prepared to answer the Court’s questions, including concerning objections or comments. If you or your lawyer still want to attend the Hearing, you are welcome to come at your own expense. However, it is not necessary that you attend. If you filed an objection to or comment about the Proposed Settlement as long as the objection or comment was postmarked before the deadline, the Court will consider it, regardless of whether you or your privately retained attorney appear at the Hearing.

  • If you want to speak or have your own lawyer speak at the Final Approval Hearing, you must give the Court a paper that is called a “Notice of Appearance.” The Notice of Appearance must refer to Corker, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., et al., No. 2:19-cv-00290, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, and state that you or your lawyer wish to enter an appearance at the Final Approval Hearing. It must also include your name, address, telephone number, and signature. Your “Notice of Appearance” must be postmarked no later than January 10, 2023. You cannot speak at the Hearing if you asked to be excluded (i.e., “opt out”) from the Proposed Settlement Class.

    The Notice of Appearance must be filed with the Court at the address provided under FAQ 13 above and also mailed to the attorneys listed in FAQ 13 above.

  • The notice summarizes the Settlement and your rights and options as a Settlement Class Member. To find out more information, please review the relevant case documents on the Important Documents page, call 1-833-667-1227 or write to:

    Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91232
    Seattle, WA 98111

    If you have a question about whether or not you are in the Settlement Class, or about your rights and options as a Settlement Class Member, you may contact Class Counsel (see FAQ 9).

    All court records, including the Settlement Agreement and other documents for the Lawsuit, may be examined in person and copied at the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, United States Courthouse, 700 Stewart Street, Suite 2310, Seattle, WA 98101.

    Please do not telephone the Court, the Clerk of the Court, or counsel for the New Settling Defendants.

For More Information

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

Mail
Kona Coffee Farmers Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91232
Seattle, WA 98111