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Deadline for claims in Chula Vista lawsuit extended

August 2, 2013 News Articles

By Allison Sampite-Montecalvo – U-T San Diego

CHULA VISTA — The deadline for some Chula Vista residents to file claims against the city for refunds on their cellphone bills has been extended.

The original deadline to submit bills and claim a portion of the $8 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit was July 31. The settlement in favor of taxpayers was reached in April and received preliminary approval from a San Diego Superior Court judge.

However, some claims were determined to be incomplete and people who submitted them have until Sept. 29 to refile.

In addition, some people may have missed earlier notifications of the settlement. A deadline was extended until Sept. 21 to allow certain Bonita residents within Chula Vista city limits to file claims. Notice of the settlement and claim form documents will be mailed Aug 7.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2011 by attorneys for CaseyGerry and Capretz & Associates, who said cellphone users never should have had to pay the money.

The lawsuit challenged a 5 percent fee the city collected from phone customers under the city’s 1970 utility users tax. It said the tax was not meant to apply to wireless phone service.

Three meetings in three months were held to explain how eligible taxpayers, who paid the city’s utility users tax on their wireless phone bills between April 2010 and April 2013, could submit claims ranging from $35 to hundreds of dollars.

“A significant number of residents will be receiving $150 and more,” CaseyGerry attorney Jason C. Evans said. “I know that one claim from a small business will get about $750.”

The $8 million will be used to pay refunds, litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees. Anything not claimed by residents will go back to the city for public services.

Evans said it’s too early to tell when eligible residents would receive their checks.

“We extended the final hearing court date approval to Nov. 15,” Evans said. “That’s when the court will make a ruling on approving the preliminary approval to say whether it’s fair, adequate and reasonable.”

Evans said the unofficial amount of claims received totals more than 12,500 but the actual amount won’t be known for at least 60 days.