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 during the Class Periods listed in the Notices. For more detail, please refer to Question 3 below.

    The Court sent you the Notices to inform you of Proposed Settlements 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 Notices outline the terms of the Proposed Settlements, who is a Settlement Class Member, your right to remain a member of the Settlement Class in any of the Proposed Settlements, how Settlement funds will be paid, how to comment on or object to any of the Proposed Settlements, and how to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class in any of the Proposed 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.” There were other Defendants in this lawsuit who had not reached settlements with the Plaintiffs at the time the notice was issued. Those Defendants not included in the definition of Settling Defendants are not part of the Proposed Settlements.

  • Plaintiffs allege that the Settling Defendants falsely advertised and falsely designated 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 the Settling Defendants deny 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 in the court filings 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 Question 17 below). Additionally, should you have questions regarding the lawsuit, you can submit them in writing to Class Counsel at the addresses provided under Question 13.

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

  • The Settlement Class includes all persons and entities who  farmed Kona coffee in the Kona District and then sold their Kona coffee during the Class Periods listed in the Notices.

    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 Settlements in these cases, 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. See Question 13 for your right to comment on or object to the Proposed Settlements.

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

    Please do not contact the Court.

  • The Proposed Settlements provide money for Settlement Class Members, require the Settling Defendants to modify the label of any coffee products labeled as “Kona” or “Kona Blend", and require Gold to create labeling requirements for Costco’s and TJX’s vendors of such coffee products.

    Under the Proposed Settlements, the Settling Defendants will make a total payment of $13,105,750. BCC will make a payment of $1,125,000. Cameron’s will make a payment of $4,900,000. Copper Moon will make a payment of $360,000. Cost Plus will make a payment of $200,000. MCC will make a payment of $420,750. Gold will make a payment of $6,100,000. 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.

    You do not need to do anything at this time. However, you will need to submit a claim form to receive a payment in the Proposed Settlements at a later time. You will be notified when the deadline to submit your claim form for payment is determined. You may also continue to visit this website for additional updates.

    In exchange for the benefits received by the Class, the Settling Defendants and retailer Defendants to the extent they sold the Settling Defendants’ products 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 in the Proposed Settlements, you will need to submit a claim form at a later time to be determined (See Question 5).  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 in any or all of the Proposed Settlements and you want to keep the right to sue one or more of 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 Settlements.

  • 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:

    a) Your name, address, and telephone number;

    b) The following Civil Action Number: 2:19-cv-000290; and

    c) 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 the deadline listed in the Notice (see the Key Dates page). You may submit your request to the following address:

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

    Although you can exclude yourself from one of the Proposed Settlements with a particular Settling Defendant or Settling Defendants, you cannot exclude yourself from only part of a Settlement or Settlement Class.  As to each Settling Defendant, you must either remain a Settlement Class Member or exclude yourself from the entire Settlement.  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:

    Paul Richard Brown
    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.

  • As to the first set of settlements, Class Counsel will request that the Court award Class Counsel partial reimbursement of their Litigation Expenses to date, totaling $600,000, approve an Incentive Payment to the Class Representatives, and award attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel in an amount not exceeding $3 million, or 25 percent of the total economic value of the Settlements, whichever is less. 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 incentive payments awarded by the Court will be paid from the Settlement Funds. Again, if you choose to hire your own attorney, you will be responsible for that attorney’s fees and expenses.

    As to the second set of settlements, Class Counsel will request that the Court award Class Counsel partial reimbursement of their Litigation Expenses to date, totaling $600,000, approve an Incentive Payment to the Class Representatives, and award attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel in an amount not exceeding $2.6 million, or 25 percent of the total economic value of the Settlements, whichever is less. 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 incentive payments awarded by the Court will be paid from the Settlement Funds. Again, if you choose to hire your own attorney, you will be 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. Question 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 Settlements are approved, the Court will appoint Plaintiffs Bruce Corker d/b/a Randho Aloha, Colehour Bondera and Melanie Bondera d/b/a Kanalani Ohana Farm, and Robert Smith and Cecelia Smith d/b/a Smithfarms 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 an Incentive Payment Award not to exceed $20,000 per farm (from the first set of settlements) and $15,000 per farm (from the second set of settlements) if approved by the Court.

  • If you have comments about, or disagree with, any aspect of the Proposed Settlements, including the requested attorneys’ fees, you may express your views to the Court through a written response to the Proposed Settlements. 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 the deadline listed in the Notice (see the Key Dates page), 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 Settlements are fair, reasonable, and adequate. A link to the proceedings will be posted on this website as soon as it is available. At the Hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Proposed Settlements 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 Settlements, 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 the deadline listed in the Notice (see the Key Dates page). 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 Question 13 above and also mailed to the attorneys listed in that section.

  • The notice summarizes the Proposed Settlements and your rights and options as a Settlement Class Member. To find out more information, please review this website, 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 the Class Counsel (see Question 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 the 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