Applied Materials, Inc. Welfare Plan Participants and Beneficiaries:
A Settlement Agreement May Affect Your Rights, this is not a solicitation from a lawyer:
- The parent of an individual with an autism spectrum disorder (“Autism”) sued the Applied Materials, Inc. Welfare Plan (the “Plan” or “Defendant”) in a putative class action lawsuit: Stewart v. Applied Materials, Inc. Welfare Plan. The individual (called “Named Plaintiff”) seeks Plan coverage for speech therapy to treat Autism without age
- Named Plaintiff and Defendant have reached a settlement agreement in which Defendant will (1) reimburse eligible Plan participants and beneficiaries for medically-necessary speech therapy to treat Autism that meets certain requirements received between June 12, 2011 through December 31, 2015 (the “Class Period”); and (2) pay $70,520 to reimburse Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees, costs, and other expenses (the "Agreement"). You may have the right to file a claim for unpaid or unreimbursed speech therapy received during the Class Period. A claim form with instructions is enclosed.
- The District Court for the Northern District of California has granted preliminary approval of the Agreement. This notice has been ordered to be provided to all potential Class Members.
Your Legal Rights In This Lawsuit
You may comment on the proposed Agreement - You have the right to comment on, object to or support the proposed Agreement. The Court will decide whether to approve or reject the proposed Agreement after a Final Hearing currently scheduled for July 13, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. The hearing will be held at the United States District Court, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California 94102, Courtroom 9 – 19th Floor. You may submit written comments or objections that you wish to be considered by the Court no later than May 19, 2019. You should not call the Court.
You may make a claim - if you were a participant or neneficiary under the Plan and incurred costs that were unpaid or reimbursed for speech therapy to treat Autism at any time between June 12, 2011 and December 31, 2015. Claims must be submitted by May 19, 2017. A claim form is in cluded with this notice.
You may do nothing - You do not need to take any action to receive coverage for qualifying, medically=necessary speech therapy under the Plan beginning on January 1, 2016. If the settlement is approved, any claims you have against Defendant or Applied Materials regarding insurance coverage for speech therapy to treat Autism will be released.
You may ask to be excluded - You can exclude yourself from the lawsuit. The Court has certified two classes for settlement purposes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) ("Rule 23(b)(3)"). A class member may opt out of a Rule 23(b)(3) class. To opt out, you must notify the Class Adminiistrator by May 19, 2017.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why did I get this notice?
You are receiving this notice because you (or a member of your family) are or were a participant or beneficiary in the Plan and made a claim for any type of treatment for Autism provided since June 12, 2011. You are not a class member simply because you got this notice. Only individuals who have received medically-necessary speech therapy to treat Autism during the Class Period can be “Class Members.” A complete definition of the classes appears in the Agreement, which is available at www.kantorlaw.net/AppliedMaterials. If you did NOT receive Speech Therapy to treat Autism, then you are NOT in the Class and you may disregard this notice.
2. What is a Class Action, and who is involved?
In a Class Action lawsuit, an individual or entity (the “Named Plaintiff”) sues individuals or entities (“Defendant[s]”) on behalf of him- or herself and others (“Class” or “Class Members”) who may have a similar claim. In a Class Action lawsuit, one Court makes decisions on behalf of everyone in the Class. In this lawsuit, the Named Plaintiff is the parent of a child with an Autism diagnosis. You and the other people receiving this notice may be Class Members.
3. What is this lawsuit about?
In the lawsuit, the Named Plaintiff claims that Defendant illegally excluded coverage of medically necessary speech therapy to treat Autism for children age 6 and older and after a participant or beneficiary exceeded 60 speech therapy visits in a calendar year. She alleges that these exclusions violated the Plan and the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (“Federal Mental Health Parity Act”). Defendant denied all claims, and denied violation of the Plan terms or the Federal Mental Health Parity Act.
4. What does the proposed Settlement Agreement provide?
The main points of the Agreement are described below. You are encouraged to review the entire proposed Agreement, which is available at www.Kantorlaw.net/AppliedMaterials. To be effective, the Court must approve the Agreement.
- Claims Process for Unpaid and Unreimbursed Speech Therapy to Treat Autism
A Class Member (through his or her parents and/or legal guardian if under 18) will be eligible for payment from the Plan upon submission of a claim form (which is provided, with instructions, as part of this class notice).
That contains the following six items:
1. the member’s DSM diagnosis, who made the diagnosis, and the date of diagnosis;
2. the date(s) of speech therapy treatment (month/year);
3. the names of provider(s) of the speech therapy as well as addresses and phone numbers, if available;
4. the unreimbursed or unpaid charges or debt incurred with that treatment;
5. verification that the speech therapy was medically necessary;
6. verification that the claimant was a Plan participant or beneficiary at the time the speech therapy was provided.
To be entitled to reimbursement, the charges must be documented with some evidence of payment(s) or obligation, such as (but not limited to) cancelled checks, credit card account statements, checking account statements, provider ledgers or signed letters from the provider or the provider’s employer documenting the amount paid or debt incurred (so long as the letter clearly connects payments/debt with speech therapy service dates by at least the month/year).
A Class Member is entitled to reimbursement even if no claim was made to the Plan or a claim was made but denied on the basis of the age of the patient or the number of prior speech therapy treatments received that year. A Claims Processor will review the claims to confirm that the requisite items are on the claim form. The Claims Processor must provide a CLass Member with a deficient claim form an opportunity to cure any problems with the claim, and Class Counsel is empowered to assist the Class Member in making any claim.
- Attorneys' Fees and Costs - Under the proposed Agreement, Class Counsel will receive $70,520 to compensate for time and expenses incurred in the litigation. You are permitted to review, object to, or support Class Counsel’s fees in connection with any comment on the Agreement. Alternatively, you may write or email Class Counsel and request information from them.
- Claims Release - Class Members will release Defendant and Applied Materials, Inc. from any and all claims related to speech therapy to treat Autism that were or could have been brought in the lawsuit. This means that if you have any actual or potential claims arising out of Defendant’s alleged failure to pay for speech therapy to treat Autism, unless you opt out, those claims will be resolved as part of the Agreement, and your right to payment for any damages related to speech therapy coverage will be governed exclusively by the Agreement.
5. Can I opt-out?
Yes. If you opt-out you will not receive any benefits under the Agreement but you also will not release your claims against Defendant or Applied Materials, Inc. To opt-out, you must notify the Class Administrator that you have decided not to participate in the Settlement by May 19, 2017 by mailing notification to: Applied Materials, Inc. Welfare Plan Class Administrator Nickerson & Associates P.O. Box 2926 Seattle, WA 98111.
6. How can I respond to the proposed Settlement Agreement?
- You May Comment on, Object to, or Support the Proposed Agreement.
You can ask the Court to deny approval by filing an objection. You can’t ask the Court to order a larger or different settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no relief will be awarded to the class and the lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you must object.
You may object to the proposed settlement in writing. You may also appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. All written objections and supporting papers must (a) clearly identify the case name and number (Stewart v. Applied Materials, Case Number 3:15-cv02632-JST), (b) be submitted to the Court either by mailing them to the Class Action Clerk, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, by filing them in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, or by mailing them to the Claims Processor at the address listed below, and (c) be filed or postmarked on or before May 19, 2017.
The Court will hold a hearing on the proposed Agreement to consider comments and approve or reject the Agreement.
- The Court currently has scheduled a hearing for July 13, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. The Court is located at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California, 94102, Courtroom 9 – 19th Floor (Hon. Judge Tigar presiding). The hearing date, time, and location can change without further notice. Please contact Class Counsel if you want to confirm the date and time of the hearing as that date approaches.
You are not required to attend the hearing, and you are not required to be present to submit comments for consideration. All comments on the Agreement, however, must be submitted in advance of the hearing to the address listed below. You may attend the hearing, and may choose to bring a legal representative if you wish and at your own expense.
You must provide notice if you plan to come to the hearing, or if you object to, wish to comment on, or formally support the Agreement by June 13, 2017.
- Address to Comment on, Object to, or Support the Proposed Agreement
If you choose to submit written comments or appear at the Court hearing, your letter must be received no later than June 13, 2017 and must be mailed to:
The Applied Materials, Inc. Welfare Plan Settlement Claims Processor
Nickerson & Associates, LLC
P.O. Box 2926
Seattle, WA 98111
Class Counsel will file your comments with the Court. Class Members should not attempt to call the Court.
7. What happens if I do nothing at all?
You are not required to do anything related to this lawsuit. You may still be eligible for speech therapy coverage as described in the response to Question #4 in this FAQ.
Regardless of whether you submit a claim, if the Court approves the settlement, any claims you have against Defendant or Applied Materials, Inc. regarding speech therapy to treat Autism that could have been brought in this lawsuit will be released unless you opt-out.
8. Where can I get more information?
For information about your rights related to the lawsuit, you may call or write Class Counsel:
Glenn Kantor or Lisa Kantor
Kantor & Kantor, LLP
19839 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91324
Tel. (818) 886-2525
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
You may request from Class Counsel copies of any of the documents in this matter, including the motion for preliminary approval of the Agreement, which details the settlement and explains why approval is being requested.
Contact or call us today at (877) 783-8686.
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