September 12, 2006

Jenner & Block recently helped H&R Block, Inc. reach a settlement in a nationwide class action over Refund Anticipation Loans, thereby ending a nearly decade-long class action lawsuit.   A federal judge on August 28 approved the settlement, calling the outcome “fair and reasonable.”

A previous settlement in the class action lawsuit was rejected by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002 before Jenner & Block’s involvement.  The current settlement will benefit 1.7 million H&R Block customers who claimed they paid too much for refund loans.  The loans were part of a popular program in which customers were offered access to an amount equal to their tax refund within one to three days in return for a fee.

According to H&R Block, the world’s largest tax services provider, the Kansas City-based company is “pleased” with the court’s decision to approve the settlement.  The company will pay $19.5 million of the $39 million settlement fund.  The other half of the settlement fund will be paid by co-defendant Beneficial National Bank, the company that made the loans.

The opinion of Elaine E. Bucklo of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois stated that a favorable outcome for the plaintiffs at an impending trial was “far from certain.”  The judge added that the plaintiffs faced “significant problems” in recovering under one of their two major claims.

The Jenner & Block legal team on this matter was led by Partner Matthew M. Neumeier and included Partners Anton R. Valukas, Traci M. Braun, Molly J. Moran, Dean N. Panos, Margaret J. Simpson and Jeremy M. Taylor, and Associates Bethany K. Biesenthal, Denise Kirkowski Bowler, Brian D. Hansen, Shahid U. Haque, Janice H. Lam, Sejal P. Parikh, Laura E. Pelanek, Stephanie L. Reinhart and Erin R. Schrantz.

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