Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is this lawsuit about?
  2. Why did I receive Notice of this lawsuit?
  3. Why did the parties settle?
  4. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?
  5. What options do I have with respect to the settlement?
  6. What are the critical deadlines?
  7. How do I decide which option to choose?
  8. What has to happen for the settlement to be approved?
  9. How much is the settlement?
  10. How much of the Settlement Fund will be used to pay for attorneys’ fees and costs?
  11. How much of the Settlement Fund will be used to pay the Class Representatives Service Awards?
  12. How much of the Settlement Fund will be used to pay the Claims Administrator’s expenses?
  13. How much will my payment be?
  14. Do I have to do anything if I want to participate in the settlement?
  15. When will I receive my payment?
  16. How do I exclude myself from the settlement?
  17. What happens if I opt out of the settlement?
  18. How do I notify the Court that I do not like the settlement?
  19. What is the difference between objecting and requesting exclusion from the settlement?
  20. What happens if I object to the settlement?
  21. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
  22. Do I have to come to the hearing?
  23. May I speak at the hearing?
  24. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
  25. Do I have to pay the lawyer for accomplishing this result?
  26. Who determines what the attorneys’ fees will be?
  1. What is this lawsuit about?

    The lawsuit that is being settled is entitled Joseph Ben Mattingly, et al. v. Stockman Bank of Montana. It is pending in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court for Yellowstone County, Montana, Case No. DV 21-1027. The case is a “class action.” That means that the “Class Representatives,” Joseph Ben Mattingly, Jill S. Mattingly, and Steven R. Smith, are individuals who are acting on behalf of current and former customers who were assessed supposedly improper APPSN Fees between November 29, 2016 and October 1, 2020 and Retry NSF Fees between August 20, 2016 and July 4, 2020. The Class Representatives have asserted claims for breach of contract, including breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

     

    Defendant does not deny it charged the fees the Class Representatives are complaining about, but contends it did so properly and in accordance with the terms of its agreements and applicable law. Defendant therefore denies that its practices give rise to claims for damages by the Class Representatives or any Class Members but is settling to avoid expense and distraction resulting from the litigation.       

    Top

  2. Why did I receive Notice of this lawsuit?

    You received a Notice because Defendant’s records indicate that you were charged one or more overdraft fees or NSF fees that are the subject of this action. The Court directed that this Notice be sent to all Class Members because each such member has a right to know about the proposed settlement and the options available to him or her before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement.

    Top

  3. Why did the parties settle?

    In any lawsuit, there are risks and potential benefits that come with a trial versus settling at an earlier stage. It is the Class Representatives’ and their lawyers’ job to identify when a proposed settlement offer is good enough that it justifies recommending settling the case instead of continuing to trial. In a class action, the Class Representatives’ lawyers, known as Class Counsel, make this recommendation to the Class Representatives. The Class Representatives have the duty to act in the best interests of the class as a whole and, in this case, it is their belief, as well as Class Counsel’s opinion, that this settlement is in the best interest of all Class Members.

     

    There is legal uncertainty about whether a judge or a jury will find that Defendant was contractually and otherwise legally obligated not to assess the fees at issue. And even if it was contractually wrong to assess these fees, there is uncertainty about whether the Class Representatives’ claims are subject to other defenses that might result in no or less recovery to Class Members. Even if the Class Representatives were to win at trial, there is no assurance that the Class Members would be awarded more than the current settlement amount, and it may take years of litigation before any payments would be made. By settling, the Class Members will avoid these and other risks and the delays associated with continued litigation.

     

    While Defendant disputes the allegations in the lawsuit and denies any liability or wrongdoing, it enters into the settlement solely to avoid the expense, inconvenience, and distraction of further proceedings in the litigation.

    Top

  4. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?

    If you received a Notice, then Defendant’s records indicate that you are a Class Member who is entitled to receive a payment or credit to your account.

    Top

  5. What options do I have with respect to the settlement?

    You have three options: (1) do nothing and you will receive a payment according to the terms of this settlement; (2) exclude yourself from the settlement (“opt out” of it); or (3) participate in the settlement but object to it.

    Top

  6. What are the critical deadlines?

    There is no deadline to receive a payment. If you do nothing, then you will get a payment.

     

    The deadline for sending a letter to exclude yourself from or opt out of the settlement is August 2, 2023.

     

    The deadline to file an objection with the Court is also August 2, 2023.

    Top

  7. How do I decide which option to choose?

    If you do not like the settlement and you believe that you could receive more money by pursuing your claims on your own (with or without an attorney that you could hire) and you are comfortable with the risk that you might lose your case or get less than you would in this settlement, then you may want to consider opting out.

     

    If you believe the settlement is unreasonable, unfair, or inadequate and the Court should reject the settlement, you can object to the settlement terms. The Court will decide if your objection is valid. If the Court agrees, then the settlement may not be approved and no payments will be made to you or any other Class Member. If your objection (and any other objection) is overruled, and the settlement is approved, then you may still get a payment and/or forgiveness of Uncollected Overdraft Fees and will be bound by the settlement.

     

    If you want to participate in the settlement, then you don’t have to do anything; you will receive a payment or forgiveness of Uncollected Overdraft Fees if the settlement is approved by the Court.

    Top

  8. What has to happen for the settlement to be approved?

    The Court has to decide that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate before it will approve it. The Court already has decided to provide Preliminary Approval of the Settlement, which is why you received a Notice. The Court will make a final decision regarding the settlement at a “Fairness Hearing” or “Final Approval Hearing,” which is currently scheduled for September 25, 2023.

    Top

  9. How much is the settlement?

    Defendant has agreed to create a Settlement Fund of $578,894. It will also forgive Uncollected Overdraft Fees totaling $35,340, as defined in the Agreement.

     

    As discussed separately, attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, and the costs paid to a third-party Claims Administrator to administer the settlement (including mailing and emailing Notice) will be paid out of the Settlement Fund. The Net Settlement Fund will be divided among all Class Members entitled to Class Member payments based on formulas described in the Agreement.

    Top

  10. How much of the Settlement Fund will be used to pay for attorneys’ fees and costs?

    Class Counsel will request the Court to approve attorneys’ fees of not more than $ 204,744.66, equal to 33 1/3% of the Value of the Settlement, and will request that it be reimbursed for litigation costs incurred in prosecuting the case. The Court will decide the amount of the attorneys’ fees and costs based on a number of factors, including the risk associated with bringing the case on a contingency basis, the amount of time spent on the case, the amount of costs incurred to prosecute the case, the quality of the work, and the outcome of the case.

    Top

  11. How much of the Settlement Fund will be used to pay the Class Representatives Service Awards?

    Class Counsel will request that the Class Representatives be paid a Service Award in the amount of $15,000 ($5,000 each) for their work in connection with this case. The Service Awards must be approved by the Court.

    Top

  12. How much of the Settlement Fund will be used to pay the Claims Administrator’s expenses?

    The Claims Administrator estimates its expenses at approximately $50,000.

    Top

  13. How much will my payment be?

    The balance of the Settlement Fund after attorneys’ fees and costs, the Service Awards, and the Claims Administrator’s fees, also known as the Net Settlement Fund, will be divided among all Class Members entitled to Class Member payments in accordance with the formulas outlined in the Agreement. Current customers of Defendant will receive a credit to their accounts for the amount they are entitled to receive. Former customers of Defendant shall receive a check from the Claims Administrator. Class Members entitled to forgiveness of Uncollected Overdraft Fees shall receive this benefit automatically.

    Top

  14. Do I have to do anything if I want to participate in the settlement?

    No. If you received Notice, then you may be entitled to receive a Class Member payment and/or forgiveness of Uncollected Overdraft Fees without having to make a claim, unless you choose to exclude yourself from the settlement, or “opt out.”

    Top

  15. When will I receive my payment?

    The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing on September 25, 2023, at 3:30 p.m. to consider whether the settlement should be approved. If the Court approves the settlement, then payments should be made or credits should be issued within 10 days of the Effective Date. However, if someone objects to the settlement, and the objection is sustained, then there is no settlement. Even if all objections are overruled and the Court approves the settlement, an objector could appeal, and it might take months or even years to have the appeal resolved, which would delay any payment.

    Top

  16. How do I exclude myself from the settlement?

    If you do not want to receive a payment or if you want to keep any right you may have to sue Defendant for the claims alleged in this lawsuit, then you must exclude yourself, or “opt out.”

    To opt out, you must send a letter to the Claims Administrator that you want to be excluded. Your letter can simply state “I hereby elect to be excluded from the settlement in the Joseph Ben Mattingly, et al. v. Stockman Bank of Montana class action.” Be sure to include your name, the last four digits of your account number(s) or former account number(s), address, telephone number, and email address. Your exclusion or opt-out request must be postmarked by August 2, 2023, and sent to:

     

    Joseph Ben Mattingly, et al. v. Stockman Bank of Montana

    Settlement Administrator

    P.O. Box 6177

    Novato, CA 94948-6177

    Top

  17. What happens if I opt out of the settlement?

    If you opt out of the settlement, you will preserve and not give up any of your rights to sue Defendant for the claims alleged in this case. However, you will not be entitled to receive a payment from the settlement.

    Top

  18. How do I notify the Court that I do not like the settlement?

    You can object to the settlement or any part of it that you do not like IF you do not exclude yourself, or opt out, from the settlement. (Class Members who exclude themselves from the settlement have no right to object to how other Class Members are treated.) To object, you must send a written document by mail or private courier (e.g., Federal Express) to the Claims Administrator. Your objection must include the following information:

    1. A statement of your intention to object to the settlement in the Joseph Ben Mattingly, et al. v. Stockman Bank of Montana class action;

     

    2. Your name, address, telephone number, the last four digits of your account number or former account number, and the contact information for any attorney you have retained in connection with this case;

     

    3. A statement of the factual and legal basis for each objection and any exhibits you wish the Court to consider in connection with the objection;

     

    4. A statement as to whether you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person or through an attorney, and, if through an attorney, identifying the attorney by name, address, and telephone number; and

     

    5. Your signature.

     

    All objections must be postmarked no later than August 2, 2023, and must be mailed to the Claims Administrator as follows:

     

    Joseph Ben Mattingly, et al. v. Stockman Bank of Montana

    Settlement Administrator

    P.O. Box 6177

    Novato, CA 94948-6177

    Top

  19. What is the difference between objecting and requesting exclusion from the settlement?

    Objecting is telling the Court that you do not believe the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate for the Class Members, and asking the Court to reject it. You can object only if you do not opt out of the settlement. If you object to the settlement and do not opt out, then you are entitled to a Class Member payment and/or forgiveness of Uncollected Overdraft Fees if the settlement is approved, but you will release claims you might have against Defendant. Excluding yourself or opting out is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the settlement, and do not want to receive a Class Member payment or forgiveness of Uncollected Overdraft Fees, or release claims you might have against Defendant for the claims alleged in this lawsuit.

    Top

  20. What happens if I object to the settlement?

    If the Court sustains your objection, or the objection of any other Class Member, then there is no settlement. If you object, but the Court overrules your objection and any other objection(s), then you will be part of the settlement.

    Top

  21. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?

    The Court will hold a Final Approval or Fairness Hearing at 3:30 p.m. on September 25, 2023 at the Thirteenth Judicial District Court for Yellowstone County, Montana, which is located at 217 N. 27th Street, Billings, Montana 59107. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court may also decide how much to award Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and litigation costs and the amount of the Service Awards to the Class Representatives. The hearing may be virtual, in which case the instructions to participate shall be posted on this website.

    Top

  22. Do I have to come to the hearing?

    No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. You may attend if you desire to do so. If you have submitted an objection, then you may want to attend.

    Top

  23. May I speak at the hearing?

    If you have objected, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. To do so, you must include with your objection, described in FAQ 18, the statement, “I hereby give notice that I intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing.”

    Top

  24. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    The Court ordered that the lawyers and their law firms referred to in this Notice as “Class Counsel” will represent you and the other Class Members.

    Top

  25. Do I have to pay the lawyer for accomplishing this result?

    No. Class Counsel will be paid directly from the Settlement Fund.

    Top

  26. Who determines what the attorneys’ fees will be?

    The Court will be asked to approve the amount of attorneys’ fees at the Final Approval Hearing. Class Counsel will file an application for attorneys’ fees and costs and will specify the amount being sought. You may review a physical copy of the fee application under the Documents tab of this website. 

    The Notice only summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are contained in the Settlement Agreement, which can also be viewed/obtained in the Documents tab of this website. 

    For additional information about the settlement and/or to obtain copies of the Settlement Agreement, or to change your address for purposes of receiving a payment, you should contact the Claims Administrator as follows:

    Joseph Ben Mattingly, et al. v. Stockman Bank of Montana

    Settlement Administrator

    P.O. Box 6177

    Novato, CA 94948-6177

    For more information, you also can contact the Class Counsel as follows: KALIEL GOLD, PLLC

    Sophia Goren Gold, Esq. 950 Gilman Street, Suite 200

    Berkeley, CA 94710

    Email: sgold@kalielgold.com

    ODEGAARD MILLER LAW, PC

    Paul D. Odegaard, Esq.

    Andrew J. Miller, Esq.

    550 North 31st Street, Suite 200

    Billings, MT 59101

    Email: paul@mtlawyers.com Email: amiller@mtlawyers.com

     

    PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR ANY REPRESENTATIVE OF DEFENDANT CONCERNING THIS NOTICE OR THE SETTLEMENT.


    Top