White landline phone lying on a wood floor with the receiver off the hook - palo alto utility
(Photo Credit: antiksu/ DepositPhotos.com)

Certain Palo Alto, California, utility users may be entitled to some cash thanks to a $1.275 million settlement over the city’s Utility Users Tax (UUT).

The Class is defined as anyone, including individuals, non-corporate entities, and corporations, who have paid the city of Palo Alto UUT imposed by Palo Alto Municipal Code § 2.35.090 on the following services between Aug. 1, 2006, and Dec. 18, 2014: “flat-rate” mobile telephone service that entitles the subscriber, upon payment of a periodic charge determined as a flat amount or upon the basis of total minutes, to an unlimited number of calls in an identified region; “flat-rate,” separately billed long-distance landline telephone service that entitles the subscriber, upon payment of a periodic charge determined as a flat amount or upon the basis of total minutes, to an unlimited number of calls in an identified region; per-minute mobile telephone service; and/or per-minute long-distance landline telephone service.

The city’s collection of this tax is unlawful, according to the plaintiff in a class action lawsuit. However, the city maintains it has done nothing wrong.

Palo Alto is a San Francisco Bay Area city that is home to about 69,700 residents.


Palo Alto Utility Refunds

Class Members in the Palo Alto utility settlement may make a claim for a refund. The amount of the payment will be based on the number of phone lines for which the refund is being requested:

  • Five or fewer: $8.50 per line
  • Six to 10: $8.50 per line for the first five, $7.50 per line for the remaining lines
  • More than 10: $8.50 per line for the first five, $7.50 per line for the next five, and $6.50 per line for the remaining lines

Attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs also will be paid from the settlement fund. In the event the amount claimed by Class Members exceeds the amount remaining in the fund, payments to claimants will be reduced proportionately.

To request a refund, Class Members must submit a valid claim form and supporting documentation by mail or email.

Consumers requesting a refund on only one phone line must provide evidence of a current Palo Alto address. This evidence could be a telephone bill, utility bill, property tax bill, paystub, or some other similar document.

Class Members requesting a refund for two to 10 lines must provide a telephone bill or multiple phone bills from any period that together identify each phone line for which the refund is being requested. Each must show a Palo Alto address.


Those seeking a refund on more than 10 phone lines must provide a telephone bill or multiple bills dated between December 2013 and December 2014 that together identify each line for which the refund is being requested. Each must show a Palo Alto address.

The claim form will ask for the number of telephone lines for which the refund is being requested and to certify that the claimant owned those lines between Dec. 24, 2013, and Dec. 18, 2014.

Class Members who received a notice by mail also received a claim form and an envelope for submitting the form. Alternatively, the form may be downloaded from the settlement website.

A final hearing in the Palo Alto utilities is scheduled for Sept. 2, 2021.

The deadline to object is Aug. 30, 2021.


Claim forms must be postmarked by Aug. 30, 2021.

Who’s Eligible

Anyone, including individuals, non-corporate entities, and corporations, who have paid the city of Palo Alto UUT imposed by Palo Alto Municipal Code § 2.35.090 on the following services between Aug. 1, 2006, and Dec. 18, 2014: “flat-rate” mobile telephone service that entitles the subscriber, upon payment of a periodic charge determined as a flat amount or upon the basis of total minutes, to an unlimited number of calls in an identified region; “flat-rate,” separately billed long-distance landline telephone service that entitles the subscriber, upon payment of a periodic charge determined as a flat amount or upon the basis of total minutes, to an unlimited number of calls in an identified region; per-minute mobile telephone service; and/or per-minute long-distance landline telephone service.

Potential Award

Varies.

  • Class Members in the Palo Alto utility settlement may make a claim for a refund. The amount of the payment will be based on the number of phone lines for which the refund is being requested:
    • Five or fewer: $8.50 per line
    • Six to 10: $8.50 per line for the first five, $7.50 per line for the remaining lines
    • More than 10: $8.50 per line for the first five, $7.50 per line for the next five, and $6.50 per line for the remaining lines
  • Attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs also will be paid from the settlement fund. In the event the amount claimed by Class Members exceeds the amount remaining in the fund, payments to claimants will be reduced proportionately.
Proof of Purchase

For one phone line: Consumers requesting a refund on only one phone line must provide evidence of a current Palo Alto address. This evidence could be a telephone bill, utility bill, property tax bill, paystub, or some other similar document.

For two to 10 phone lines: Class Members requesting a refund for two to 10 lines must provide a telephone bill or multiple phone bills from any period that together identify each phone line for which the refund is being requested. Each must show a Palo Alto address.

For 10 or more: Those seeking a refund on more than 10 phone lines must provide a telephone bill or multiple bills dated between December 2013 and December 2014 that together identify each line for which the refund is being requested. Each must show a Palo Alto address.

Claim Form

NOTE: If you do not qualify for this settlement do NOT file a claim.

Remember: you are submitting your claim under penalty of perjury. You are also harming other eligible Class Members by submitting a fraudulent claim. If you’re unsure if you qualify, please read the FAQ section of the Settlement Administrator’s website to ensure you meet all standards (Top Class Actions is not a Settlement Administrator). If you don’t qualify for this settlement, check out our database of other open class action settlements you may be eligible for.

Claim Form Deadline

08/30/2021

Case Name

Staats, et al. v. City of Palo Alto, Case No. 2015-1-CV-284956 in Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

Final Hearing

02/02/2021

Settlement Website
Claims Administrator

Staats v. City of Palo Alto Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
PO Box 91225
Seattle, WA 98111
1-888-681-1079
info@UtilityUsersTax.com

Class Counsel

Thomas S. Slovak
Stephen J. Schultz
SLOVAK, BARON, EMPEY, MURPHY & PINKNEY LLP

Alexandra T. Steele
STEELE COOPER LAW

Defense Counsel

Terence Howzell
PALO ALTO CHIEF ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY

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Please note: Top Class Actions is not a settlement administrator or law firm. Top Class Actions is a legal news source that reports on class action lawsuits, class action settlements, drug injury lawsuits and product liability lawsuits. Top Class Actions does not process claims and we cannot advise you on the status of any class action settlement claim. You must contact the settlement administrator or your attorney for any updates regarding your claim status, claim form or questions about when payments are expected to be mailed out.

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