TO THOSE PERSONS AND/OR ENTITIES WHO PAID CITY PENALTIES OR COLLECTION FEES TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS FOR LATE PAYMENT OF AD VALOREM TAXES PURSUANT TO CITY ORDINANCE NO. 18637
SUMMARY NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN to those persons and/or entities who paid penalties/fees from April 17, 2000 through March 5, 2002. These penalties were imposed on real and other property located in the City of New Orleans for late payment of property taxes to the City. The penalties/fees imposed on real property were later determined to be unconstitutional by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
If you were assessed and paid City penalties and collection/penalty fees for delinquent payment of personal property (business) taxes or paid the penalties on real property outside of the recognized time frame, you are not included in this class.
Class representatives (plaintiffs), brought suit against The City of New Orleans (“City”), Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP (“Linebarger”) and United Governmental Services of Louisiana, Inc. (“UGSL”), asserting that any property owner who paid unconstitutional late payment City penalties and fees while the Ordinance was in effect, was entitled to the return of those sums. The Courts, because of certain payment under protest provisions imposed by State and City law, limited the claims to the time frame April 17, 2000 through March 5, 2002. The Court certified this action as a class action on November 24, 2015 with a class of plaintiffs as defined in the Notice and covering only that time frame. The class representatives now seek to force the City, Linebarger and UGSL to return all payments made during that time frame. The defendants, City, Linebarger and UGSL dispute the return of the penalty/collection fees paid. The Court has not made a final determination that the claims will be honored. Class claims with respect to Linebarger and UGSL are limited as to the issue of these defendants being debt collectors. This will be determined by the Court in the future.
This summary Notice is to inform you of the pendency of this class action law suit and to advise you that you do not have to do anything at the present time if you wish to be part of the class action as defined by the Court and to advise you of your right and the procedure to be followed if you wish to opt out of the litigation and/or pursue any separate action. Any person who wants to be excluded from the class must submit a request for exclusion from the class following the process set out in the full Notice on website, nolataxpenalty.com. The opt out letter must be postmarked no later than April 1, 2019. See full Notice online. Any judgment, whether favorable or not, will include all members of the class who do not request exclusion from the class.
If you opt out of this class action, you will not be included in the class action or share in any recovery made on behalf of the class. If you do opt out and fail to take whatever action may be necessary to protect your interests within 30 days from the date that you opt out, you will be forever barred from bringing any action with regard to any claim for return of the penalties/collection fees paid. Likewise, if your claim was excluded from this class action you have 30 days from the publication of the full Notice to file suit. See La. Code of Civil Procedure, Art. 596. You should consult your own attorney. Again, if you wish to be part of the class you do not have to take any further action, until further notified.
Inquiries should be directed to: Class Counsel, 807 Howard Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70113; www.nolataxpenalty.com .
TO BE PART OF THE CLASS
You do not have to take any further action, until further notified. Any judgment, whether favorable or not, will include all members of the class who do not request exclusion from the class.
TO EXCLUDE YOURSELF
Any person who wants to be excluded from the class must submit a request for exclusion from the class. The opt out letter to the Class Counsel must be postmarked no later than April 1, 2019.
In 2002, Remy Fransen and Allain Hardin filed a class action suit challenging a City of New Orleans ("City") Ordinance that imposed a 30% collection penalty and a 10% late payment penalty on past due ad valorem property taxes. Made defendants in the law suit was the City and its private collectors, the law firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP ("Linebarger") and United Governmental Services of Louisiana, Inc. ("UGSL"), which received the 30% collection penalty/charge.
The plaintiffs contended and ultimately the Louisiana Supreme Court agreed that the penalties/charges imposed were unconstitutional under the ad valorem tax provisions of the Louisiana Constitution. See the case Fransen v. City of New Orleans, 2008-0076, 976 So. 2d 1275 (La. 2/22/08).
Prior to the Supreme Court's holding the penalties were unconstitutional, Messrs. Fransen and Hardin had to fend off the City's assertion that the case had to be dismissed because tax and penalty challenges require payment under protest and filing suit within 30 days. Despite being dismissed by the trial court, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed and ultimately held, because of the way state law was written, that for a specific period of time, April 17, 2000 to March 5, 2002 there was no requirement for payment under protest and filing suit within 30 days.
Subsequent to the payment under protest prescriptive challenge being reversed and the Louisiana Supreme Court's holding that the imposed penalties were unconstitutional, the claimants were required to establish that the suit was appropriate for class certification. In other words, class representatives had to be chosen, qualified, and certain criteria met, before those claimants could act on behalf of all persons or entities who paid the illegal charges from April 17, 2000 to March 5, 2002. Prior to the hearing Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Monahan were substituted as proposed class representatives for Messrs. Fransen and Hardin. The Monahans were approved by the Court as class representatives.
After a contentious hearing, the trial court ruled on November 24, 2015 that the claim could proceed as a class action. The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the decision on March 28, 2018. Plaintiffs sought review by the Louisiana Supreme Court because the trial and appellate courts declined to open the case to all persons who paid the penalties throughout the time it was imposed. The Court declined to hear the appeal. A Notice of Class Certification is now required to be published.
While this case was pending, plaintiffs' counsel, Remy Fransen and Allain Hardin, also challenged a subsequent New Orleans ad valorem property tax penalty that imposed a 10% late payment and 9.5% collection charge. The City collected these penalties even after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled such penalties unconstitutional. In Jackson v. City of New Orleans, 2012-2742 (La. 1/2814), 144 So. 3d 876, the Supreme Court again held the City of New Orleans lacked the authority to impose these penalties. The Court also confirmed that the payment under protest and 30 day to sue prescriptive provisions were applicable.
The Notice advises all potential class members of the establishment of the class only for penalty payments made during the restricted period, April 17, 2000 to March 5, 2002. Any other property tax payers, who paid the penalties outside of that time frame, have no rights in this class action. Any tax payers, who paid the penalty, during that time frame, are part of this class and do not have to take any further action to have their claim asserted on their behalf against the City and the private debt collectors. However, class members do have the option to opt out and file their own separate law suits with their own counsel, should they desire to do so. The Notice sets out what is required to do so.
Any persons or entities, who have specific questions regarding this class action, may fill out the "Contact Us" form to contact the class counsel.
The trial court in the future will consider and rule on whether the City of New Orleans, as well as Linebarger and UGSL, owe return of the illegal charges collected during the applicable time period. Linebarger and UGSL contend that they do not owe return of the penalties collected from tax payers by the City and paid to them. Class representatives filed a claim directly against them contending that as debt collectors they were obligated to meet certain legal criteria and if they did not do so then they had to return any sums that they were paid. The court must determine this issue in the future. The City of New Orleans has also filed a claim against Linebarger and UGSL contending that since the payments were made to those entities, as required by the Contract between the City and Linebarger/UGSL, those entities are obligated to return those sums to the City. Again, the court will decide this issue in the future.
This website will be updated periodically to advise all potential claimants of the progress and their rights in this class action.
 See LSA-R.S. 47:21348 and New Orleans City Code '150-46.7.
 Fransen v. City of New Orleans, 862 So. 2d 142 (La. App. 4 Ct. 11/19/03.
 Fransen v. City of New Orleans, 2016-0844 (La. App. 4 Cir. 3/28/18).
The purpose of this website is to provide information to class members regarding the class action settlement information. Using this site or communicating with class counsel regarding the Class Action through this site does not constitute a claim.
Copyright © 2019 Class Counsel for A. Remy Fransen, Jr. and Allain F. Hardin vs The City of New Orleans, et al - All Rights Reserved.