PACER FEES CLASS ACTION

This website contains information regarding the class action settlement in National Veterans Legal Services Program, et al. v. United States, Case No. 1:16-CV-00745-PLF in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

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NATURE OF THE ACTION

This lawsuit alleges that the United States government unlawfully charged users of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system more than necessary to cover the costs of providing public access to federal court records.

On January 24, 2017, the Court allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a class action on behalf of all individuals who paid PACER fees between April 21, 2010 and April 21, 2016. On March 31, 2018, the Court issued a decision on the parties’ motion for summary judgment. A copy of the district court’s opinion can be found  here, and a copy of the district court’s order can be found here. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision on August 6, 2020, and remanded for further proceedings in the district court. The Federal Circuit’s opinion and judgment can be found in the Court Documents section of this website. On July 27, 2022, after mediation and extensive negotiations, the parties agreed to settle the lawsuit. On March 20, 2024, the Court granted final approval of the settlement, finding the settlement to be fair, reasonable, and adequate. On April 17, 2024, a class member and objector submitted a notice of appeal, appealing the Court’s final approval decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit


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THE SETTLEMENT CLASS

In addition to the already-certified class of individuals and entities who paid PACER fees between April 21, 2010 and April 21, 2016, the Settlement Class includes everyone that paid fees for the use of PACER between April 21, 2016 and May 31, 2018. Federal government agencies, class counsel in this case, and anyone who previously timely submitted a notice of exclusion is not included in the Settlement Class.

THE SETTLEMENT

The parties have agreed to settle this litigation for $125,000,000. On May 8, 2023, the Court granted preliminary approval of the settlement and approved the plan to provide notice of the settlement to individuals and entities who paid PACER fees between April 21, 2010 and May 31, 2018. The Court’s order and the preliminary approval briefing can be found here: Docket entries 148149150151152153154155.

On August 28, 2023, Plaintiffs filed for final approval of the settlement. Plaintiffs’ briefing can be found here. The Court held a final approval hearing on October 12, 2023 and granted final approval of the settlement on March 20, 2024. The Court’s opinion and order can be found here: Docket entries 169, 170.

SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, checks will be automatically sent to class members based on PACER billing records of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts following resolution of the pending appeal.

Following resolution of the pending appeal (and assuming the Court’s final approval decision is upheld), checks will be mailed to class members, made payable to the individual accountholders, within 180 days of receipt of the settlement funds from the government or receipt of the information necessary to distribute payment, whichever is later.

Each class member will receive a minimum payment of the lesser of $350 or the total amount paid in PACER fees by that class member during the Class Period. The remaining monies in the fund will be distributed on a pro rata basis to class members who paid more than $350 in PACER fees during the Class Period.

If unclaimed or undistributed funds remain 180 days after the Administrator has made the first distribution, those funds will be equally allocated and distributed to all class members who (1) paid more than $350 in PACER fees during the Class Period, and (2) deposited or otherwise collected their payment from the first distribution. The Settlement provides for a payment of no more than 20% of the $125,000,000 as attorneys’ fees and costs, class administration costs, and service awards for the class representatives. The Court approved the full amount of $25 million requested by plaintiffs to cover service awards for the class representatives, costs, and attorneys’ fees.

More information about the allocation and distribution of the settlement fund can be found here: Docket entries: 149-1, 149-2, 149-3. If you have any questions, please contact the lawyers for the plaintiffs at [email protected] or 800-934-2792.