Should my friend accept this class action settlement?
May 13, 2017 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend. Should my friend accept a class-action settlement, if the claim form requires him to admit wrongdoing?

My friend received a ticket for a minor quality of life offense from the NYPD in September 2011. The ticket was dismissed and sealed by the court two months later.

This type of ticket was the subject of a class action settlement in 2016-17. The city was sued for allegedly issuing groundless tickets to meet quotas over a long period of time, and agreed to settle. My friend stands to receive up to $150, which may be reduced if there is an unexpected number of claims.

Now he's received the claim form, which asks, "9. At the time that you received the summons, were you committing the violation for which the police officer gave you a summons?" He is concerned that answering truthfully (answering yes) will expose him to further liability. (Note, answering "no" is not an option.)

On the other hand, the question may just be for statistical purposes, not to be reviewed for the purpose of re-issuing the tickets.

YANMFL, TINLA. If you have any knowledge about this type of situation, should my friend submit the claim?
posted by JimN2TAW to Law & Government (13 answers total)
Was what your friend did an act that could have put others at risk? Or something benign like jaywalking with no oncoming cars? In any case, the charge was dismissed. They can't be charged again for the same "crime." IANANYL, of course.

Out of curiosity, is "yes" the only option given for answering the question?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2017

For $150? Why bother even risking it?
posted by Brockles at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2017

Thanks for your question, Thorzdad. The act was quality-of-life, as I said. Benign.

The question can be answered "yes" or "no." When I said "no is not an option" I meant that my friend is not going to lie. Sorry for the confusion.

Of course, a third possible reason for the question might be simply to deny the claim of anybody who answers yes. That would be OK, but it hasn't been mentioned in anything we've read about the settlement, including the published FAQ. The purpose of this question is to ask about the risk of reissuance of the ticket.

The charge wasn't dismissed on the merits, but rather for procedural reasons as mentioned in the article. So my friend is not so sure about whether double jeopardy or statute of limitations will avoid reinstatement of the ticket.

Thanks for your interest.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:56 AM on May 13, 2017

Seems like if your friend was committing the violation, he shouldn't claim the settlement money for folks who were ticketed groundlessly, and should just be grateful that his ticket was dismissed.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:03 AM on May 13, 2017 [15 favorites]

How about leaving that question blank? Just because the question is there doesn't mean it has to be answered. This might lead to the claim being rejected, but so might a "yes."
posted by Corvid at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would 100% not answer yes to the question.
posted by empath at 1:43 PM on May 13, 2017

What is a "quality of life offense?"
posted by megatherium at 1:56 PM on May 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

There is a law office handling these claims. As a member of the class, they are your friend's lawyers. Call them and ask.
posted by Hatashran at 2:41 PM on May 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

You keep saying the offence is 'quality of life' like we it's a common term we are all aware of. It means nothing to me. Could you clearly explain the offence or give a similar example? The answers you receive will probably depend on the the kind of offence it is, which is clear as mud right now.
posted by Jubey at 2:43 PM on May 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

"Quality of life" means things like public urination. Shitty antisocial behaviors (if voluntary), but minor.

Your friend should consult the class action firm that has been appointed as his counsel. I'd say the odds of their reprosecuting based on an answer on a claim form are almost nil, but they can explain to him the implications of such an answer.
posted by praemunire at 4:00 PM on May 13, 2017

praemunire: ""Quality of life" means things like public urination. Shitty antisocial behaviors (if voluntary), but minor."

Also "disorderly conduct, trespassing and drinking in public"; these infractions can be really minor.
posted by Mitheral at 4:54 PM on May 13, 2017

Thanks for all your answers.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:52 AM on May 15, 2017

At the time that you received the summons, were you committing the violation for which the police officer gave you a summons?
If they're going to be literal, and demand self-incrimination, your friend can be literal to avoid it: NO.
2 minutes before then, maybe he was committing the violation. But I doubt he was pissing in the street literally while the cop completed the summons.
posted by LonnieK at 1:25 PM on May 17, 2017

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