Frequently Asked Questions

BASIC INFORMATION AND OVERVIEW

1. What is this notice, and why did I get it?

A Court authorized this notice to inform you how your rights may be affected by this proposed settlement. This notice describes the lawsuit, the general terms of the proposed settlement and what it may mean to you. This notice also explains how to participate in, or exclude yourself from, the settlement if you are a Class Member.

You may have received this notice because you own property or lived near the Lincoln Park Incinerator. You may otherwise have received this notice on social media, newspaper, or radio through a program designed to reach as many Class Members as possible. For information on how to determine if you are a Class Member, see Question 5.

2. What is this lawsuit about?

The City of Fort Lauderdale is the owner of three properties, the former Lincoln Park Incinerator site, the former Lincoln Park Elementary School, and Lincoln Park, all located on NW 6th Street (Sistrunk Blvd) and NW 19th Avenue. Portions of these parcels may have become contaminated with incinerator ash, and together these properties have been labeled the Lincoln Park Complex. From the 1920’s to the 1950’s, the City of Ft. Lauderdale operated the Lincoln Park Incinerator to burn trash. The Plaintiffs contend that the operations of the incinerator led to the creation of contaminated ash. During the Lincoln Park incinerator’s operation the City disposed of incinerator ash onto the incinerator site itself, and transported and stockpiled it onto the land where Lincoln Park Elementary School was later built, and on to the land that was first the playground for the elementary school and later converted to Lincoln Park. Incinerator ash may contain arsenic, dioxin, and other contaminants. The area around the incinerator may have contamination and this area has been called the Area of Impact. The Area of Impact is I-95 to the west, Sunrise Blvd. to the north, NW 12th Avenue to the east, and NW 5th Street to the south.

Two lawsuits were brought on behalf of individuals who are residents, property owners, and individuals who were otherwise exposed to the incinerator ash and who allege they have been injured by elevated levels of arsenic and dioxin and other potential contaminants emanating from the Lincoln Park Complex into the Area of Impact (the “litigation”). [See Walter Hinton, et al. v. City of Ft. Lauderdale, Case No: 07-30358 and Ray Adderley, et al. vs. City of Ft. Lauderdale, CACE-11008499]. The most recent version of the lawsuits, which describes the specific legal claims alleged by the Plaintiffs, is available at www.lincolnparksettlement.com.

The City of Fort Lauderdale denies any wrongdoing, maintains that it has meritorious defenses to Plaintiffs’ claims and that the concentration of contaminants in the Lincoln Park Area of Impact are adequately protective of human health and the environment and do not constitute a risk to the community. No court or other judicial entity has made any judgment or other determination of any wrongdoing. The City of Fort Lauderdale has concluded, despite the belief that it is not liable for the claims asserted and the belief that it has good defenses thereto, that it will enter into a Settlement Agreement to avoid the further time and expense and risks associated with continued litigation, and to put to rest with finality all claims that have been or could have been asserted against it in the pending litigation.

3. Why is this a class action?

In a class action, one or more people called “class representatives” sue on behalf of themselves and other people with similar claims. All of these people together are the “class” or “class members.” Because this is a class action, even persons who did not file their own lawsuit can obtain benefits, except for those individuals who timely exclude themselves from the settlement class, and those who do not opt out will be bound by the settlement.

4. Why is there a settlement?

The Court has not decided the cases in favor of Plaintiffs or the City of Fort Lauderdale. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. Settlements avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial and related appeals, while more quickly providing benefits to members of the settlement class. The class representatives appointed to represent the class and the attorneys for the settlement class (“Class Counsel,” see Question 15) believe that the settlement is in the best interests of the Class Members.

WHO IS PART OF THE SETTLEMENT

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

To qualify for a Property Damage Fund award, an Eligible Plaintiff must currently own residential property located within the Lincoln Park Area of Impact. No property owned by the City of Fort Lauderdale in the Lincoln Park Area of Impact shall be eligible for inclusion.

To qualify for Medical Monitoring, a person must either be i) a named Plaintiff in the Litigation; or ii) a person qualifying for class membership. To qualify for class membership a person must have either lived for at least 10 years in the Lincoln Park Area of Impact, which includes i) living in the Durrs Neighborhood for 10 years or more from anytime as early as 1928 to the present; ii), attending Lincoln Park Elementary School, including after-school programs within the school’s facilities, anytime between 1960 to 2003; or iii) playing in Lincoln Park (while residing in the Durrs Neighborhood for the 10-year exposure period and / or attending Lincoln Park Elementary School) up until the time it was closed for remediation in 2002. The 10-year exposure period does not need to be consecutive. For example a resident may qualify for monitoring if she lived in the Impact Area from 1981-1986 and returned to live in the area from 1990-1996.

Excluded from the settlement are:

  • Any property owned by the City of Fort Lauderdale in the Lincoln Park Area of Impact;
  • Past and present employees, except any named plaintiffs, and Commissioners of the City of Fort Lauderdale;
  • The presiding judge and any judicial staff involved in the lawsuit; and
  • Any Class Member who opts-out (see Question 18).

If you are not sure whether you are included in the Settlement Class, call 1-855-907-2127.

THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS

6. What does the settlement provide?

Under the proposed settlement, the City of Fort Lauderdale will provide benefits to named plaintiffs in the litigation and / or individuals who qualify as Class Members of any or all of the Funds in the form of a Litigation Injury Fund, a Property Damage Class Fund, a Medical Monitoring Class Fund and a Reserve Fund. See Question 16 regarding the attorney fees and expenses that will be deducted from these total settlement proceeds prior to award amounts being determined for any named plaintiff or Class Members. If you are a residential property owner or an individual subjected to exposure to elevated levels of arsenic, dioxin and certain other environmental contaminants, you may be eligible for any or all of the following three Class Settlement Benefits:

  1. Property Damage Payment. Owner(s) of residential property with in the Area of Impact can qualify for a payment of up to $750.00. Payments will only be made to current residential owners located within the Lincoln Park Area of Impact. Only one payment will be made per eligible residential address regardless of the number of owners of the property. Residential property owners who receive Property Damage Payments will need to speak to their own tax advisors about the taxability of such Property Damage Payments.
  2. Medical Monitoring Program. You can qualify for access to medical exams and diagnostic testing for the adverse medical outcomes and / or human disease(s) often attributed to the exposure to carcinogens such as arsenic, dioxin and certain other environmental contaminants:
    • Medical Monitoring Class Members are eligible for one set of exams and testing through a Preferred Provider in either year one or two following the Effective Date of the proposed settlement and then, if funds are available, a second set of exams and testing in years three through five following the Effective Date of the proposed settlement. [For more information about the “Effective Date” of the proposed settlement, see Question 13].
    • Exams and testing can include a physical exam and other clinically acceptable diagnostic testing, such as blood testing, for adverse health effects and / or human disease(s) which are often claimed to be related to exposure to contaminants such as arsenic and dioxin.
    • In the event any Medical Monitoring Class Member resides more than seventy five miles from any of the Preferred Providers, the Class Member may seek reimbursement for any Medical Monitoring exams and testing services included in the Medical Monitoring Program that have been provided by any Class Member’s selected physician.
    • Preferred Providers will be identified by a Court-Appointed Neutral based upon proximity to the Area of Impact and their medical and administrative capabilities to perform exams and testing services offered in the Medical Monitoring Program.
    • The Court-Appointed Neutral will also direct a community outreach campaign concerning the importance and availability of medical exams and diagnostic testing until the termination of the Medical Monitoring Program.
  3. Class Bodily Injury Fund Payment. If you (i) are a member of the Property Damage Class or Medical Monitoring Class who is not a named plaintiff in the litigation and (ii) receive a diagnosis, within a period of one (1) year after the Effective Date, for an adverse medical outcome and / or disease (“bodily injury”) associated with exposure to the satisfaction of the Court-Appointed Neutral overseeing the settlement you may be entitled to a portion of the Class Bodily Injury Fund. The total amount of proceeds in the Class Bodily Injury Fund will be no less than $250,000.00. The Court-Appointed Neutral will determine all awards and make payments from the Class Bodily Injury Fund at the conclusion of the one-year claim period.Approximately $15,085,900.00 in total settlement proceeds (prior to a deduction of attorney fees and expenses consistent with Question 17) has been allocated to the Litigation Injury Fund for named plaintiffs in the litigation described on page 1. If you have not already filed a claim for personal injuries in Walter Hinton et al., v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 07- 300358 and Ray Adderley, et al., v. City of Fort Lauderdale, CACE11008499, you are not entitled to benefits from the Litigation Injury Fund. The balance of the total settlement proceeds, however, has been allocated to the three Class Settlement Benefits described above for which you may still qualify.

7. Can minor children make a claim?

Under the terms of this settlement, any representative of a minor or incompetent plaintiff who has i) demonstrated authority to release the claims being settled in the litigation; and, ii) is eligible for the benefits provided in this settlement may make a claim on behalf of said minor or incompetent plaintiff. Additional procedures may be required to authorize any such payment and a guardian may need to be appointed to oversee approval.

8. What happens if there are leftover settlement funds?

Since there is a finite number of owners of residential property within the Area of impact who can qualify for the up to $750.00 payment, it is not anticipated that there will be any leftover funds in the Property Damage Class Fund. If, however, any residential property owners do not file claims, those settlement funds may be distributed in a second round of additional payments to property class members.

After an initial period of five (5) years the Court-Appointed Neutral may request the Court to terminate the Medical Monitoring Fund due to (i) lack of use of the Fund by Class Members or (ii) lack of monies to continue to underwrite the Fund. Any funds remaining in the Fund upon termination shall, pursuant to Court Order, be given as a grant to Preferred Providers (see Question 6) with the express purpose of eliminating challenges to access to healthcare in the community and / or Legal Aid of Broward County.

Any leftover funds in the Class Bodily Injury Fund after administration of the Class Bodily Injury Fund shall be distributed on a pro-rata basis by the Court-Appointed Neutral to the Named Plaintiffs in the Litigation and Class Members who previously were approved for and received payment from the Class Bodily Injury Fund.

Under no circumstances will settlement funds be returned to the City of Fort Lauderdale and the City, after payment, will have no responsibility for the administration or management of any fund authorized under the settlement.

 

9. What happens if the Medical Monitoring Fund runs out of money?

If the benefits described in Question 6 use up the Medical Monitoring Fund, the Medical Monitoring Program will terminate. In no event shall the City of Fort Lauderdale be liable for any additional funding of the Medical Monitoring Program beyond the settlement amount described in Question 6.

HOW TO GET SETTLEMENT BENEFITS

10. How do I file a claim for Property Damage Payment?

To file a claim for Property Damage Payment, you will need to file a claim form. There are two options for filing claims:

(1) File Online: You may fill out and submit the claim form online at www.lincolnparksettlement.com. This is the quickest way to file a claim.

(2) File by Mail: Alternatively, you may simply fill out a claim form and mail it to the address on the form with supporting documentation, if any. You can download a hard copy of the claim form (available at www.lincolnparksettlement.com.). Fill out your claim form, and mail it (including postage) to: Lincoln Park Complex Settlement, c/o Court-Appointed Neutral, 229 South Brevard St., Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28202.

The deadline to file a claim is February 16, 2021 (this is the last day to file online and the postmark deadline for mailed claims).

11. How do I file a claim to enroll in the Medical Monitoring Program?

To file a claim to enroll in the Medical Monitoring Program, you will need to file a claim form. There are two options for filing claims:

(3) File Online: You may fill out and submit the claim form online at www.lincolnparksettlement.com. This is the quickest way to file a claim.

(4) File by Mail: Alternatively, you may simply fill a claim form and mail it to the address on the form with supporting documentation, if any. You can download a hard copy of the claim form (available at www.lincolnparksettlement.com.). Fill out your claim form, and mail it (including postage) to: Lincoln Park Complex Settlement, ℅ Court-Appointed Neutral, 229 South Brevard St., Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28202.

The deadline to file a claim is November 17, 2021 (this is the last day to file online and the postmark deadline for mailed claims).

12. How do I file a claim for compensation from the Class Bodily Injury Fund?

To file a claim for compensation from the Class Bodily Injury Fund, you will need to file a claim form. There are two options for filing claims:

(5) File Online: You may fill out and submit the claim form online at www.lincolnparksettlement.com. This is the quickest way to file a claim.

(6) File by Mail: Alternatively, you may simply fill out a claim form and mail it to the address on the form with supporting documentation, if any. You can download a hard copy of the claim form (available at www.lincolnparksettlement.com.). Fill out your claim form, and mail it (including postage) to: Lincoln Park Complex Settlement, c/o Court-Appointed Neutral, 229 South Brevard St., Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28202.

The deadline to file a claim is one year after the effective date of the Settlement (this is the last day to file online and the postmark deadline for mailed claims). The Court-Appointed Neutral will determine all awards and make payments from the reserve account at the conclusion of the one-year claim period.

13. When and how will I receive the benefits I claim from the settlement?

Payments for valid Property Damage claims will be made and payments for valid claims for compensation from the Class Bodily Injury Fund will be made and Medical Monitoring benefits will begin upon the Effective Date of the settlement. The Effective Date will not occur until after the Court enters an order approving the settlement. This may take several months or more; please be patient. Once there is an order approving the settlement it will be posted on the settlement website.

Checks for valid claims for Property Damages and / or valid claims for compensation from the Class Bodily Injury Fund will be mailed by the Court-Appointed Neutral to the mailing address that you provide.

NAMED PLAINTIFFS

14. What if I am a named plaintiff?

Named plaintiffs are those individuals who have already filed a claim for personal injuries in Walter Hinton, et al. v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 07-300358 and Ray Adderley, et al. v. City of Fort Lauderdale, CACE11008499. If you have not already filed a claim in the above-referenced litigation, you are not considered a “named plaintiff”.

  1. Named plaintiffs will be contacted by their attorneys for any materials or information necessary for the processing and release of their claim from the Litigation Injury Fund.
  2. Named plaintiffs are auto-enrolled into the Medical Monitoring Program benefit and will receive Medical Monitoring benefit details once that information is published after the settlement Effective Date.
  3. Named plaintiffs who are also owners of residential property in the Area of Impact will automatically receive compensation for their property damage claim when they are compensated for their claim for personal injuries.
  4. Named plaintiffs may not participate in the Class Bodily Injury Fund benefit.

LEGAL RIGHTS RESOLVED THROUGH THE SETTLEMENT

15. What am I giving up to stay in the settlement class?

If you make a claim under the settlement, or if you do nothing, you will be releasing all of your legal claims relating to the Lincoln Park Complex against the City of Fort Lauderdale when the settlement becomes final. By releasing your legal claims, you are giving up the right to file separate lawsuits against or seek further compensation from the City of Fort Lauderdale for any harm related to the Lincoln Park Complex—whether or not you are currently aware of those claims.

Unless you exclude yourself from the settlement (see Question 19), all of the decisions by the Court will bind you. That means you will be bound to the terms of the settlement and accompanying court orders, and cannot bring a lawsuit or be part of another lawsuit against the City of Fort Lauderdale regarding the Lincoln Park Complex.

Paragraphs 13.1-13.7 of the Settlement Agreement define the claims that will be released by Class Members who do not exclude themselves from the settlement. You can access the Settlement Agreement and read the specific details of the legal claims being released at www.lincolnparksettlement.com.

THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU

16. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

Yes. The Court appointed the following attorneys to represent you and other Class Members as “Class Counsel.”

Reginald J. Clyne, Esq.
QUINTAIROS, PRIETO, WOOD
& BOYER, P.A.
9300 S. Dadeland Blvd
Miami, FL 33156

Louise R. Caro, Esq.
NAPOLI SHKOLNIK, PLLC
2665 South Bayshore DriveSuite 220
Coconut Grove, Florida 33133

You will not be charged by these lawyers for their work on the case. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

If you have questions, please contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC at 212-397-1000.

17. How will these lawyers be paid?

Class Counsel have undertaken this case on a contingency-fee basis, meaning they have paid for all of the expenses in the case and have not been paid any money in relation to their work on this case. Accordingly, Class Counsel will ask the Court to award them attorneys’ fees of 40% of the recovery, which is the Standard Florida Bar Approved Rate for settlements. The total estimated amount of fees paid is $7.2 million and the cost reimbursement is approximately $800,000.00. The Court will decide the amount of fees and costs and expenses to be paid. You will not have to separately pay any portion of these fees yourself. Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs (which must be approved by the Court) will be filed by September 18, 2020 and will be available to view on the settlement website at www.lincolnparksettlement.com. The total amount of attorney fees and expenses approved by the Court will deducted from the total settlement proceeds prior to award amounts being determined for any named plaintiff or Class Members.

18. Will the class representatives receive any additional money?

The class representatives in this action are listed in the Settlement Agreement, which is available at www.lincolnparksettlement.com. Class Counsel will ask the Court to award these individuals “service awards” of $5,000 each for the time that they spent, and the risks that they undertook, in bringing this lawsuit on behalf of the class. This amount is also subject to Court approval. Any amount approved by the Court will be paid from the total settlement proceeds.

 

EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT

19. How do I exclude myself from the settlement?

If you are a member of the settlement class but do not want to remain in the class, you may exclude yourself from the class (also known as “opting out”). If you exclude yourself, you will lose any right to participate in the settlement, including any right to receive a Property Damage Payment and / or participate in the Medical Monitoring Program and / or receive compensation from the Class Bodily Injury Fund.

If you decide on this option, you may keep any rights you have, if any, against the City of Fort Lauderdale and you may file your own suit against the City of Fort Lauderdale based upon the same legal claims that are asserted in this lawsuit, but you will need to find your own attorney at your own cost to represent you in that lawsuit. The City has aggressively defended this litigation and there is no guarantee that you could prevail in such a lawsuit, and any outcome may be worse than the proceeds under the settlement. Your right to file suit may be barred by the statute of limitations. If you are considering this option, you may want to consult an attorney to determine the extent of your rights.

IMPORTANT: You will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement unless you submit a timely and signed written request to be excluded from the settlement. To exclude yourself from the settlement you must mail a request for exclusion, postmarked no later than October 19, 2020, to:

Lincoln Park Complex Settlement
c/o Court-Appointed Neutral
Attn: Exclusion
229 South Brevard St.
Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28202

This statement must contain the following information:

(1) The name of this proceeding (Walter Hinton, et al. v. City of Ft. Lauderdale, Case No: 07-30358 and Ray Adderley, et al. vs. City of Ft. Lauderdale, CACE-11008499, or similar identifying words such as “The City of Fort Lauderdale Lincoln Park Complex Lawsuit”);

(2) Your full name;

(3) Your current address;

(4) The words “Request for Exclusion” at the top of the document or a statement that you do not wish to participate in the settlement; and

(5) Your signature.

If you do not comply with these procedures and the deadline for exclusions, you will lose any opportunity to exclude yourself from the settlement class, and your rights will be determined in this lawsuit in accordance with the Compromise Agreement if it is approved by the Court, and you may not recover under any other individual payment or relief regarding the claims released as part of the settlement.

OBJECTING OR COMMENTING ON THE SETTLEMENT

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

If you are a Class Member, you have the right to tell the Court what you think of the settlement. You can object to the settlement if you don’t think it is fair, reasonable, or adequate, and you can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve it. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement as presented.

To object, you must send a letter stating that you object to the settlement. Your objection must Include:

(1) The name of this proceeding (Walter Hinton, et al. v. City of Ft. Lauderdale, Case No: 07-30358 and Ray Adderley, et al. vs. City of Ft. Lauderdale, CACE-11008499, or similar identifying words such as “The City of Fort Lauderdale Lincoln Park Complex Lawsuit”);

(2) Your full name and current address;

(3) Your personal signature (an attorney’s signature is not sufficient);

(4) A statement indicating the basis of your belief that you are a member of the settlement class;

(5) A statement of the grounds for your objection, accompanied by any legal support for the objection;

(6) A statement identifying all class action settlements to which you have objected in the previous five (5) years; and

(7) A statement as to whether you plan to appear at the Fairness Hearing, either in person or through counsel, and if through counsel, identifying your counsel by name, address, and telephone number, and four dates between October 19th, 2020 and November 13th, 2020 during which you are available to be deposed by counsel for the Parties.

Additionally, if you are represented by counsel and your counsel intends to speak at the Fairness Hearing, your written objection must include:

(8) A detailed statement of the specific legal and factual basis for each and every objection; and

(9) A detailed description of any and all evidence or demonstrative aids you may offer at the Fairness Hearing, including copies of any and all exhibits that you may introduce at the Fairness Hearing.

Additionally, if you are represented by counsel, and your counsel intends to seek compensation for his or her services from anyone other than you, your written objection must include:

(10) The identity of all counsel who represent you, including any former or current Counsel who may be entitled to compensation for any reason related to the objection;

(11) A statement identifying all instances in which your counsel or your counsel’s law firm have objected to a class action settlement within the preceding five (5) years, giving the style and court in which the class action settlement was filed;

(12) A statement identifying any and all agreements that relate to the objection or the process of objecting—whether written or oral—between you, your counsel, and/or any other person or entity;

(13) A description of your counsel’s legal background and prior experience in connection with class action litigation; and

(14) A statement regarding whether fees to be sought will be calculated on the basis of a lodestar, contingency, or other method; an estimate of the amount of fees to be sought; the factual and legal justification for any fees to be sought; the number of hours already spent by your counsel and an estimate of the hours to be spent in the future; and the attorney’s hourly rate.

To be considered by the Court, your objection must be filed electronically with the Court by October 19, 2020 or mailed, postmarked no later than October 19, 2020, to the following addresses:

Lincoln Park Complex Settlement
c/o Court-Appointed Neutral
Attn: Exclusion
229 South Brevard St.
Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28202

You must not submit your objections directly to the Court. If you do not comply with these procedures and the deadline for objections, you may lose any opportunity to have your objection considered at the Approval Hearing or otherwise to contest the approval of the settlement or to appeal from any orders or judgments entered by the Court in connection with the proposed settlement. You will still be eligible to receive settlement benefits if the settlement becomes final even if you object to the settlement.

The Court has scheduled an Approval Hearing to listen to and consider any concerns or objections from Class Members regarding the fairness, adequacy, and reasonableness of the terms of the Settlement Agreement. That hearing will take place on November 17, 2020 at 11:00am before the Honorable Patti Englander Henning, Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, In and For Broward County, Florida. This hearing date and time may be moved, and depending on the current health crisis, the Court may hold a virtual hearing. Please refer to the settlement website for notice of any changes.

GETTING MORE INFORMATION

21. Where can I get more information?

If you have questions about this notice or the settlement, you may go to the settlement website at www.lincolnparksettlement.com. You can also contact the Court-Appointed Neutral at 1-855-907-2127 or Lincoln Park Complex Settlement, c/o Court-Appointed Neutral, Lincoln Park Settlement, c/o Court-Appointed Neutral, 229 South Brevard St., Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28202, for more information or to request that a copy of this notice be sent to you in the mail. If you wish to communicate directly with Class Counsel, you may contact them (contact information noted above in Question 16). You may also seek advice and guidance from your own private attorney at your own expense, if you wish to do so.

This notice is only a summary of the lawsuit and the settlement. Other related documents can be accessed through the settlement website. If you have questions about the proposed settlement, or wish to receive a copy of the Settlement Agreement but do not have access to the Internet to download a copy online, you may contact the Court-Appointed Neutral. The Court cannot respond to any questions regarding this notice, the lawsuit, or the proposed settlement. Please do not contact the Court or its Clerk.