This website contains information regarding a class action lawsuit that is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, entitled National Veterans Legal Services Program, et al. v. United States, Case No. 1:16-CV-00745-PLF.
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.
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 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 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155.
On October 12, 2023, the Court will hold a final fairness hearing to determine whether to grant final approval of the settlement. The Court has not yet granted final approval of the proposed settlement.
The Settlement Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for October 12, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) in Courtroom 29 in the William B. Bryant Annex to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 before the Honorable Paul L. Friedman. The public is welcome to attend in person or listen remotely via the Court’s public phone line:
Public Phone Line: 877-848-7030 (access code 8204797)
If the Court approves the proposed Settlement and Plan of Allocation, checks will be automatically sent to class members based on PACER billing records of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
Under the terms of the proposed Settlement, 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, after this distribution, unclaimed or undistributed funds remain one year after the $125,000,000 payment by the United States, 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 deposited or otherwise collected their payment from the first distribution. The proposed 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.
More information about the allocation and distribution of the settlement fund can be found here. If you would like to notify the claims administrator that you paid PACER fees on someone else’s behalf, or that someone else paid PACER fees on your behalf, please click here. If you have any questions please contact the lawyers for the plaintiffs at [email protected] or 800-934-2792.