Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation

Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation

If you purchased advertising space in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown or Star newspapers, you could get a payment from a class action settlement.

An Illinois state court authorized this Notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.

  • A settlement will provide $15 million in cash and other benefits to pay claims from advertisers who purchased advertising space in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown or Star newspapers.
  • The settlement resolves a lawsuit over whether the Sun-Times, Daily Southtown and Star newspapers misled advertisers about the newspapers’ circulation. The settlement avoids costs and risks to you from continuing the lawsuit, pays money to advertisers like you, and releases the Defendants from liability.
  • Court-appointed lawyers for the advertisers will ask the Court for up to $5.575 million, to be paid separately by the Defendants, as fees and expenses for investigating the facts, litigating the case, and negotiating the settlement.
  • The two sides disagree on how much money could have been won if advertisers won at trial.
  • YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED WHETHER YOU ACT OR DON’T ACT. READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY.

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT:

SUBMIT A CLAIM FORM The only way to get a payment.
EXCLUDE YOURSELF Get no payment. This is the only option that allows you to ever be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants about the legal claims in this case.
OBJECT Write to the Court about why you don’t like the settlement.
GO TO A HEARING Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the settlement.
DO NOTHING Get no payment. Give up rights.
  • These rights and options — and the deadlines to exercise them — are explained in this Notice.
  • The Court in charge of this case still has to decide whether to approve the settlement. Payments will be made if the Court approves the settlement and after appeals are resolved. Please be patient.

QUESTIONS? CALL 1-800-000-0000 TOLL FREE, OR VISIT WWW.SUNTIMESCIRCULATIONSETTLEMENT.COM
PARA UNA NOTIFICACIÓN EN ESPAÑOL, LLAMAR OR VISITAR NUESTRO WEBSITE

BASIC INFORMATION
1. Why did I get this Notice package?
2. What is this lawsuit about?
3. Why is this a class action?
4. Why is there a settlement?

WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT
5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?
6. Are there expectations to being included?
7. I’m still not sure if I am included.

THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS – WHAT YOU GET
8. What does the settlement provide?
9. How much will my payment be?

HOW YOU GET A PAYMENT – SUBMITTING A BENEFIT OR CLAIM FORM
10. How can I get a payment?
11. When would I get a payment?
12. What am I giving up to get a payment or stay in the Class?

EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT
13. How do I get out of the settlement?
14. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the Defendants for the same thing later?
15. If I exclude myself, can I get compensation from this settlement?

THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
16. Do I have a lawyer in the case?
17. How will the lawyers be paid?

OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT
18. How do I tell the Court that I don’t like the settlement?
19. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding?

THE COURT’S FAIRNESS HEARING
20. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
21. Do I have to come to the hearing?
22. May I speak at the hearing?

IF YOU DO NOTHING
23. What happens if I do nothing at all?

GETTING MORE INFORMATION
24. Are there more details about the settlement?
25. How do I get more information?

BASIC INFORMATION

1. Why did I get this Notice package?

You may have paid for advertising in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown or Star newspapers.

The Court sent you this Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the settlement. If the Court approves it and after objections and appeals are resolved, an administrator appointed by the Court will make the payments that the settlement allows. You will be informed of the progress of the settlement.

This package explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.

The Court in charge of the case is the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and the case is known as In re Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation, Case No. 04 CH 9757. The people who sued are called Plaintiffs, and the companies they sued – Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.; Hollinger International, Inc.; and Midwest Suburban Publishing, Inc. – are called the Defendants.

2. What is this lawsuit about?

The lawsuit claims that the Defendants used a variety of methods to overstate the circulation figures of the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown and Star newspapers over different periods of time. The lawsuit also claims that the Defendants’ overstatement of circulation caused Plaintiffs and Class Members to pay more for advertising than they would have paid had the circulation totals been accurately reported. The Defendants deny all liability and deny that the overstatements damaged the Plaintiffs or any Class Members.

3. Why is this a class action?

In a class action, one or more people, called Class Representatives, sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are a Class or Class Members. One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class. Judge Bernetta D. Bush is in charge of this class action.

4. Why is there a settlement?

The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiffs or Defendants. The Plaintiffs think they could have won a trial. The Defendants think the Plaintiffs would not have won anything from a trial. But there was no trial. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement after arms’-length negotiations under the direction of retired Judge Abner Mikva. That way, they avoid the cost, risk and inconvenience of a trial, and the people affected will get compensation. The Class Representative and the attorneys think the settlement is best for all Class Members.

WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT

To see if you will get compensation from this settlement, you first have to decide if you are a Class Member.

5. How do I know if I am part of the settlement?

Judge Bush decided that everyone who fits this description is a Class Member: All persons who purchased advertising in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown or Star newspapers (i) from April 1, 1997 through September 30, 2004, in the case of the Sun-Times, or (ii) from April 1, 2004 through September 30, 2004, in the case of the Daily Southtown and Star newspapers.

6. Are there exceptions to being included?

You are not a Class Member if you are an employee of the Defendants or their subsidiaries, divisions, and related entities, or an immediate family member of such an employee.

You also are not a Class Member if you either (a) signed a settlement agreement covering your claims against the Defendants, or (b) filed your own lawsuit against the Defendants, regarding the matters raised in the lawsuit, prior to September 16, 2005.

Also excluded from the Class are United Airlines, ATA Airlines, Walgreen’s Company, and Sears and Sears Home Improvement Stores.

7. I’m still not sure if I am included.

If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can ask for free help. You can call 1-800-465-9507 or visit www.SunTimesCirculationSettlement.com for more information. Or you can fill out and return one of the forms described in question 10, to see if you qualify.

THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS – WHAT YOU GET

8. What does the settlement provide?

The Defendants have agreed to provide a total of $15 million in cash and other benefits to Class Members who send in valid benefit or claim forms.

9. How much will my compensation be?

Your compensation will depend on which newspaper you advertised in, when you placed your ad, and what type of ad you placed. Here’s how it works:

There will be five (5) Claim Categories. Advertisers whose ad placements fall in multiple categories will be entitled to compensation based on their total ad expenditures in each category.

CLAIM CATEGORY A: This category consists of Insert and CPM advertisers in the Chicago Sun-Times. These Class Members will receive a total of $1.6 million in damages and printing expense reimbursements. Insert advertisers will be entitled to receive cash and expense reimbursements based on their respective CPM advertising expenditures with the Sun-Times from April 1, 1999 through September 30, 2004. CPM advertisers will receive compensation based on the formulae set forth in this Notice. Each Class Member in Claim Category A will receive a benefit form with this Notice setting forth the amount of compensation to which they are entitled. If an Insert advertiser can demonstrate that its actual excess out-of-pocket printing costs for the period between April 1, 2001 and September 30, 2004 exceeded the amounts provided for in the benefit form, they will be entitled to that additional amount.

CLAIM CATEGORY B: This category consists of personal classified advertisers in the Chicago Sun-Times. Each Class Member in this category who submits a claim form will receive a certificate granting it the right to place a one-day, three-line personal classified ad at no charge. You may claim up to five (5) certificates if you placed multiple personal classified ads. Restrictions regarding the use of the certificates are set forth in the claim form.

CLAIM CATEGORY C: This category consists of run-of-press advertisers who placed only one ad in the Chicago Sun-Times or who did not spend a total of more than $1,000 on ads in the Sun-Times in any consecutive two-year period. Each of these Class Members will receive the right to place a single ad in the Sun-Times, Daily Southtown or Star newspapers at a discount of 50% off of the applicable May 1, 2005 rate card for the size, type of ad and day of week the ad will run. Each Class Member in Claim Category C will receive a benefit form with this Notice setting forth the amount of compensation to which they are entitled.

CLAIM CATEGORY D: This category consists of run-of-press advertisers who placed more than one ad in the Chicago Sun-Times and spent more than $1,000 on ads with the Sun-Times. These Class Members will receive a total of $6 million in cash and $2.8 million in value-added benefits, based on the formulae set forth in this Notice. Each Class Member in Claim Category D will receive a benefit form with this Notice setting forth the amount of their compensation, with the option of selecting between cash and value-added benefits.

CLAIM CATEGORY E: This category consists of advertisers in the Daily Southtown or Star newspapers. Those advertisers who spent less than $5,000 will receive the right to place a single ad in one of those newspapers at a discount of 50% off of the applicable May 1, 2005 rate cards for the size, type of ad and day of the week the ad will run. Those advertisers who spent $5,000 or more on ads will receive the right to place two ads in one of those newspapers at a discount of 50% off of the applicable May 1, 2005 rate cards for the size, type of ad and day of the week the ads will run. Each Class Member in Claim Category E will receive a benefit form with this Notice setting forth the amount of compensation to which they are entitled.

OTHER CLASS MEMBERS: Class Members who are not entitled to benefits pursuant to these Claim Categories or who are otherwise unable to claim benefits due to death, being out of business, or for any other reason will receive benefits through what is referred to as “Cy Pres.” The Defendants will pay a total of $50,000, to be divided equally between two charitable organizations – The Chicago Bar Foundation and The Center for Conflict Resolution. The Defendants will also provide each charity with a single one-half page ad at no charge.

If you accept the benefits of this settlement, you may not dispute the methodology and formulae used in the calculation of your benefits. You may, however, dispute the amount of compensation to which you are entitled if your records do not conform to those of the Defendants as to the type of ads placed by you. To dispute the amount of compensation to which you are entitled under the settlement, you will be required to submit a written notice of the basis of the dispute, as well as all supporting documentation and a signed copy of the completed benefit form. You must mail these documents, postmarked no later than March 18, 2006, to:

Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation
P.O. Box 1793
Faribault, MN 55021-1793

HOW YOU GET A PAYMENT–SUBMITTING A BENEFIT OR CLAIM FORM

10. How can I get a payment?

To qualify for compensation, you must send in either a benefit or a claim form, depending on the type of ad you placed. The appropriate form is enclosed with this Notice. You may also get a benefit and claim form on the Internet at www.SunTimesCirculationSettlement.com. Read the instructions carefully, fill out the form, include all the documents the form asks for, sign the form, and mail it to the address printed on the form. In order to obtain benefits under this settlement, your benefit or claim form must be postmarked no later than March 18, 2006.

11. When would I get my payment?

The Court will hold a hearing on January 17, 2006, to decide whether to approve the settlement. If Judge Bush approves the settlement after that, there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time, perhaps more than a year. Everyone who sends in a benefit or claim form will be informed of the progress of the settlement. Please be patient.

12. What am I giving up to get a payment or stay in the Class?

Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Class, and that means that you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants about the legal issues in this lawsuit. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. If you sign the benefit or claim form, you will agree to a “Release of Claims,” attached to the form, which describes exactly the legal claims that you give up if you get settlement benefits.

EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT

If you don’t want compensation from this settlement, but you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue the Defendants on your own, about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out. This is called excluding yourself – or is sometimes referred to as “opting out” of the settlement Class.

13. How do I get out of the settlement?

To exclude yourself from the settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from the In re Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation settlement. Be sure to include your full name, address, telephone number, and signature. You must mail your exclusion request postmarked no later than December 2, 2005 to:

Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation
P.O. Box 1793
Faribault, MN 55021-1793

If you ask to be excluded, you will not get any settlement payment, and you cannot object to the settlement. You will not be legally bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit. You may be able to sue (or continue to sue) the Defendants in the future.

14. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue the Defendants for the same thing later?

No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue the Defendants for the claims that this settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that case immediately. You must exclude yourself from the Class to continue your own lawsuit. Remember, the exclusion deadline is December 2, 2005.

15. If I exclude myself, can I get compensation from this settlement?

No. If you exclude yourself, do not send in a benefit or claim form to ask for any compensation. But you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against the Defendants.

THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU

16. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

The Court asked several law firms – led by (a) Baskin Server Berke & Weinstein, and (b) Much Shelist Freed Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, P.C. – to represent you and other Class Members. These lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

17. How will the lawyers be paid?

Class Counsel will ask the Court to approve payment of up to $5.575 million to them for attorneys’ fees and expenses. They will also ask the Court to approve payments of $25,000 for one of the plaintiffs and $10,000 each for the other plaintiffs, for their services as Class Representatives. The attorneys’ fees would pay Class Counsel for investigating the facts, litigating the case, and negotiating the settlement. The Court may award less than these amounts. The Defendants will separately pay the fees, expenses and payments that the Court awards. These amounts will not reduce the $15 million available for Class Members. The Defendants have agreed not to oppose these fees and expenses. The Defendants will also pay the costs to administer the settlement.

OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT

You can tell the Court that you don’t agree with the settlement or some part of it.

18. How do I tell the Court that I don’t like the settlement?

If you’re a Class Member, you can object to the settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views.

IF YOU DO NOT OBJECT IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED BELOW, YOU WILL BE DEEMED TO HAVE WAIVED ANY OBJECTION AND WILL BE FOREVER BARRED FROM MAKING ANY OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT.

To object, you must send a letter saying that you object to the settlement in In re Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation, Case No. 04 CH 9757. Be sure to include your full name, address, telephone number, and signature; the specific reasons you object to the settlement, including any legal support you wish to bring to the Court’s attention; and any evidence you wish to submit to support your objection. Mail the objection to these four different places postmarked no later than December 2, 2005.

Court

Class Counsel

Defense Counsel

(1) Clerk of the Court (2) Burton I. Weinstein (4) Richard R. Winter
Circuit Court of Cook County Baskin Server Holland & Knight LLP
Richard J. Daley Center 20 N. Wacker Dr. 131 S. Dearborn St.
50 W. Washington St. Suite 1745 30th Floor
Room 802 Chicago, IL 60606 Chicago, IL 60603
Chicago, IL 60602
(3) Michael B. Hyman
Much Shelist
191 N. Wacker Dr.
Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606

19. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding?

Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the lawsuit no longer affects you.

THE COURT’S FAIRNESS HEARING

The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement. You may attend and you may ask to speak, but you don’t have to.

20. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?

The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 2:00 p.m. on January 17, 2006, at the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago, Illinois, in Courtroom 2008. At this hearing the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Bush will listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing. The Court may also decide how much to pay to Class Counsel. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

21. Do I have to come to the hearing?

No. Class Counsel will answer questions Judge Bush may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.

22. May I speak at the hearing?

You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear in In re Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation, Case No. 04 CH 9757.” Be sure to include your full name, address, telephone number, and signature, as well as the nature of your proposed comments. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be postmarked no later than December 2, 2005 and must be sent to the Clerk of the Court, Class Counsel, and Defense Counsel, at the four addresses in question 18. You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself.

IF YOU DO NOTHING

23. What happens if I do nothing at all?

If you do nothing, you’ll get no compensation from this settlement. But unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants about the legal issues in this case, ever again.

GETTING MORE INFORMATION

24. Are there more details about the settlement?

This Notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in a Stipulation of Settlement. You can get a copy of the Stipulation of Settlement by writing to either Class Counsel, or by visiting www.SunTimesCirculationSettlement.com.

25. How do I get more information?

You can call 1-800-465-9507 toll free; write to Chicago Sun-Times Circulation Litigation, Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 1793, Faribault, MN 55021-1793; or visit the website at www.SunTimesCirculationSettlement.com, where you will find answers to common questions about the settlement, benefit and claim forms, plus other information to help you determine whether you are a Class Member and whether you are eligible for compensation.

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