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If you purchased a six-pack or twelve-pack of Guinness Extra Stout beer in Massachusetts between December 15, 2011 and September 3, 2015, as described on page 1 of the Notice, you have a right to know about the proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit and your options. You may have received this Notice because you requested more information after reading the Settlement Website. If the Court approves it, and if objections and all appeals are resolved in favor of settlement approval, a Settlement Administrator approved by the Court will oversee the distribution of the Class Benefits that the proposed Settlement allows. You will be informed of the progress of the proposed Settlement on the settlement website.
The Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them. Judge Mark L. Wolf of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts is overseeing the lawsuit, which is known as O’Hara, et al. v. Diageo North America USA, et al., Case No. 15-cv-14139. The person who sued is called the Plaintiff, and the companies he sued, Diageo Beer Company USA (formerly Diageo-Guinness USA, Inc.) and Diageo North America, Inc., are called the Defendants.
This lawsuit alleges generally that Guinness Extra Stout was labeled and advertised as produced and imported from Ireland when, in fact, it was produced and imported from Canada. Diageo denies any wrongdoing. The Court has not determined which side is right. Rather, the Parties have agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the uncertainties, expenses, and expenditure of resources associated with ongoing litigation.
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “class representatives” (in this case, the Plaintiff, Kieran O’Hara) sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “class” or “class members.” The class members here are referred to as “Settlement Class Members,” because this class is being certified for Settlement purposes only. The named Plaintiff who sued — and all the Settlement Class Members like them — are called the Plaintiffs. The companies they sued (in this case, Diageo) are called the Defendants. One Court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class — except for those people who choose to opt-out of the Class.
If you purchased a six-pack or twelve-pack of Guinness Extra Stout beer in Massachusetts between December 15, 2011 and September 3, 2015, inclusive, then you are a Settlement Class Member.
Monetary Relief. Under the proposed Settlement, for Settlement Class Members who submit a valid Claim Form, along with Proof of Purchase establishing purchase of Guinness Extra Stout in Massachusetts between December 15, 2011 and September 3, 2015, Diageo will pay $0.50 per six-pack (whether purchased as a six-pack or as part of a twelve-pack) up to $20.00 per household.
For Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms without Proof of Purchase, but who submit attestation of the Claimant’s purchase of Guinness Extra Stout in Massachusetts between December 15, 2011 and September 3, 2015 under penalty of perjury, Diageo will pay $0.50 per six-pack (whether purchased as a six-pack or as part of a twelve-pack) up to $10.00 per household.
The Parties have further agreed that Diageo will pay the costs to administer this proposed Settlement, reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, and a payment to the named Plaintiff (see FAQ #13, below). A detailed description of the Settlement benefits can also be found in the Settlement Agreement.
The hearing to consider the fairness of the Settlement is scheduled for October 7, 2021. If the Court approves the Settlement, then eligible Settlement Class Members whose claim were approved by the Settlement Administrator will receive their payment 30 days after the Settlement has been finally approved and/or after any appeals process is complete. The payment will be made in the form of electronic payment or check.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and want to receive a payment under the Settlement, you must complete and submit a Claim Form no later than October 26, 2021. Claims Forms can be submitted online or downloaded, completed and mailed postmarked by October 26, 2021.
If you do nothing, then you will remain in the Class and not receive any payment from this Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, you will be bound by its terms, you will no longer have the ability to sue with respect to the claims being resolved by the Settlement, and your claims will be released and dismissed.
The Settlement Agreement describes the Released Claims in more detail, so please read it carefully. If you have any questions, you can contact the lawyers listed in FAQ #10 for free to discuss, or you can talk to another lawyer of your own choosing if you have questions about what this means.
You have the right to opt-out of the Settlement. If you don’t want a payment from the Settlement but want to keep the right to sue on your own, you must request exclusion from, or “opt-out” of, the Settlement Class. The Court will exclude from the Class any member who requests exclusion or opts-out.
If you opt-out of the Settlement, you won’t get any money or benefits from the Settlement. However, you may then be able to separately sue or continue to sue Diageo for the legal claims that are the subject of the lawsuit. If you bring your own lawsuit against Diageo after you opt-out of the Settlement, you will have to hire your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you will have to prove your claims.
To opt-out of the Settlement, you must submit a written Exclusion/Opt-Out Request electronically through this Settlement Website, or by mail, stating that you “want to opt-out of the Settlement in O’Hara, et al. v. Diageo Beer Company USA, et al., Case No. 15-14139.” Your written Opt-Out Request must also include your name, current address, and telephone number. And the request must be signed and dated by you. Your Opt-Out Request must be submitted electronically or mailed and postmarked on or before September 20, 2021 to:
O’Hara, et al. v. Diageo Beer Company USA, et al.
c/o Kroll Settlement Administration
P.O. Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391
If you request exclusion or opt-out, 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 the lawsuit.
If you are a Settlement 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 the Settlement. The Court will consider your views.
To object, you must file with the Court a written Objection entitled “Objection to Class Settlement in O’Hara, et al. v. Diageo Beer Company USA, et al., Case No. 15-14139” that identifies all the reasons for your Objections and any legal and factual support for those reasons.
Your written Objection must also include your name, address, telephone number, and email address if available, and it must state information showing that you are a Settlement Class Member (i.e., Proof of Purchase or a verification under penalty of perjury as to the date and location of your Guinness Extra Stout purchase(s)). It must also state if you are represented by legal counsel, and if so, provide contact information for your lawyer, including his or her email address if available.
If you intend to appear and speak at the Final Fairness Hearing to object to the Settlement, with or without a lawyer (explained below in FAQs #14, #15 and #16), you must also state your intention to appear in your written Objection.
You must file your written Objection with the Court by mailing it to the address below, and you must mail a copy to Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel. Your Objection must be postmarked no later than September 20, 2021:
The Honorable Mark L. Wolf
United States District Court
for the District of Massachusetts
John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 2300
Boston, MA 02210
FORREST, MAZOW, MCCULLOUGH, YASI & YASI, P.C.
Two Salem Green, Suite 2
Salem, MA 01970
Samuel A. Danon
HUNTON ANDREWS KURTH LLP
Wells Fargo Center
333 SE 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33131
Objecting means telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself or opting out of the Settlement means that you do not want to be part of the Class. If you opt-out, then you have no basis to object to the Settlement because the case no longer affects you.
The Court appointed the law firm of Forrest, Mazow, McCullough, Yasi & Yasi, P.C. to represent the Plaintiff and all Settlement Class Members as “Class Counsel.” Below is contact information for Class Counsel:
FORREST, MAZOW, MCCULLOUGH, YASI & YASI, P.C.
Two Salem Green, Suite 2
Salem, MA 01970
Class Counsel believe, after conducting an extensive investigation, that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class Members. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by a different lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.
In addition to the monetary benefit to be paid to the Settlement Class Members, Diageo has agreed to pay Class Counsel’s fees, costs, and expenses in an amount to be determined by the Court not to exceed $1,500,000. The Court may award less than this amount. Any fees, costs, and expenses that are awarded to Class Counsel will be paid separately by Diageo and in addition to the monetary benefits to Settlement Class Members. This payment will not deplete the funds made available to Settlement Class Members.
Also, subject to approval by the Court, Diageo has agreed to pay $7,500 to the Settlement Class Representative, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the Settlement Class Members throughout this case.
The Court will hold the Final Fairness Hearing on October 7, 2021 at 11:00 am in Courtroom 2 before Judge Wolf at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Suite 2300 Boston, Massachusetts 02210.
The purpose of the hearing will be for the Court to determine whether to approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Class; to consider Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses; and to consider the request for the Service Award to the Settlement Class Representative. At that hearing, the Court will be available to hear any Objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the Settlement.
No. You do not need to attend the Final Fairness Hearing. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have on behalf of the Settlement Class Members. However, you are welcome to attend the Final Fairness Hearing at your own expense. If you submit an Objection or comment, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you filed and mailed your written Objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay to have another lawyer attend on your behalf, but that is not required.
Yes. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must include in your written Objection to the Settlement a statement saying that it is your intent to appear at the Final Fairness Hearing in O’Hara, et al. v. Diageo Beer Company USA, et al., Case No. 15-14139. Your written Objection and notice of intent to appear must be filed with the Court and postmarked no later than September 20, 2021 and sent to the addresses listed in FAQ #10.
The Notice summarizes the Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You may also write with questions to O’Hara, et al. v. Diageo Beer Company USA, et al., c/o Kroll Settlement Administration, P.O. Box 225391, New York, NY 10150-5391. You can also call the Settlement Administrator at 1-833-460-1724 or Class Counsel at (877) 599-8890, if you have questions.