Hill's Pet Food Settlement

Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions

Answers

1. WHY HAVE YOU RECEIVED A NOTICE?

If you received a Notice, it is because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of class action lawsuits, and about your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement.  This website, explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them. 

You may fill out the Claim Form included with your Notice, or online, in order to receive a payment from the Settlement if you are eligible.

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2. WHAT IS THE LAWSUIT ABOUT?

The lawsuits claim that certain lots of Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet canned dog food products were manufactured with high levels of Vitamin D.  The lawsuits allege that dog owners who purchased these recalled products lost money by purchasing dog food products that contained excess levels of Vitamin D or were otherwise not manufactured as represented and/or received veterinarian services as a result of injuries to their dogs.

The Court in charge of the cases is the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, and the cases have been consolidated into one case known as In Re: Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. Dog Food Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 2:19-md-02887-JAR-TJJ (D. Kan.).  The people who sued are called Plaintiffs, and the companies they sued—Hill’s and Colgate—are called Defendants.

Defendants deny that class action lawsuits are the most appropriate, efficient or comprehensive way to help consumers whose pets may have been affected by the recall.  Defendants are entering into this Settlement to avoid burdensome and costly litigation and to focus on timely addressing consumer complaints.

Defendants state that despite their safeguards and industry-leading food safety and quality control programs, one of Hill’s trusted suppliers, DSM Nutritional Products LLC, delivered vitamin mix that included too much Vitamin D.  Defendants assert that when they discovered the supplier error, in an abundance of caution and in coordination with the United States Food and Drug Administration, they voluntarily recalled all potentially affected canned dog foods, and confirmed that no dry dog food, cat food, or treats were affected.  Defendants stand by their products, and have a long-standing process in place to investigate and respond to complaints that their food has caused an adverse health issue.  Defendants utilized and enhanced that claims process to respond to requests by pet owners for payment of expenses allegedly related to the ingestion of the recalled food.  Defendants also established a program to compensate veterinarians directly for diagnostic testing and office visits, to ensure that concerned pet owners could have their pets evaluated by their veterinarians without incurring out of pocket costs.

This Settlement also covers certain Prescription Diet and Science Diet canned dog foods that were not part of the recall.  These foods are included in the Settlement because, inter alia, they were sold at the same time as the recalled foods over a year ago and including them will make it as easy and convenient as possible for consumers to participate in the Settlement.  The non-recalled foods included in the Settlement have not caused any confirmed injuries, nor did FDA require Hill’s to expand the scope of the recall to include these foods.  

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3. WHY IS THIS LAWSUIT A CLASS ACTION?

In a class action, one or more people, called Class Representatives, sue on behalf of people who have similar claims.  All of 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.  Chief Judge Julie A. Robinson is in charge of this class action.

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4. WHY IS THERE A SETTLEMENT?

The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiffs or Defendants as to all Class Members.  Instead, both sides have agreed to a Settlement, which is an agreement between a Plaintiff or Plaintiffs and a Defendant or Defendants to resolve a lawsuit.  That way, they avoid the costs of trials and appeals, and the people affected can get compensation.  A Settlement resolves those issues and makes money available to those claiming injury sooner.  The Class Representatives and the attorneys believe that the nationwide Settlement is in the best interests of all parties concerned.  The Settlement is not an agreement that the theories alleged in the lawsuit are correct.

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5. AM I A PART OF THIS CLASS?

A copy of the Notice was sent via electronic and/or direct mail to all purchasers whose mailing and/or electronic email addresses could be located.  You are a member of the Settlement Class certified by the Federal Court if you: purchased Hill’s Prescription Diet and/or Science Diet canned dog food products between September 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 (the “Hill’s Products”).  The specific Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet canned dog food products that are included in this Settlement are listed in Exhibit 1 of the Long Form Notice.

Specifically excluded from this Settlement are any and all claims asserted on behalf of consumers who purchased Hill’s cat foods, dry food products, treats, Ideal Balance or Healthy Advantage canned dog foods, or other products produced by Hill’s that are not specifically listed in Exhibit 1.  Also excluded from this Settlement are all claims asserted in the complaint captioned Eichhorn-Burkhard v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., No. 19-2672-JAR-TJJ (D. Kan.), which purports to assert class claims on behalf of consumers who purchased recalled Hill’s Products in Germany and elsewhere in the European Union.  

Additionally excluded from this Settlement Class are: (1) all persons and entities who have both been provided compensation from any Defendant and have executed a release for the Claims described herein; (2) Defendants, any entity in which Defendants have a controlling interest, and their legal representatives, officers, directors, employees, assigns and successors; (3) persons and entities that purchased Hill’s Products for resale or resold Hill’s Products, but not including those products that such persons or entities directly used; (4) the Judges to whom this case is assigned and any member of the Judges’ staff or immediate family; (5) Settlement Class Counsel; and (6) putative Settlement Class Members who submit a valid Request for Exclusion prior to the Exclusion Deadline.

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6. WHICH HILL'S PRODUCTS ARE INCLUDED IN THIS SETTLEMENT?

The Hill’s Products that are included in this Settlement are Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet canned dog foods purchased in the United States from September 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019.  A list of these products are listed in Exhibit 1 of the Long Form Notice.

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7. I'M STILL NOT SURE IF I AM INCLUDED.

If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can get free help on this website or by calling 1-833-537-1191 or by writing to: Hill’s Pet Food Settlement Program, c/o Settlement Administrator, PO Box 97, Warminster, PA 18974-0097. 

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8. WHAT BENEFITS DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE?

Defendants have agreed to create a Settlement Fund of $12,500,000.  This amount covers all purchasers who are part of the Settlement Class. This amount also covers the costs of administering the Settlement and any attorneys’ fees and Litigation Expenses awarded by the Court.

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9. WHAT CAN I GET FROM THE SETTLEMENT?

Eligible consumers who stay in the Settlement are entitled to a payment if they submit a complete, timely and signed Claim Form as described below.  

Settlement Class Members are eligible to receive money from the Settlement Fund by submitting a Valid Claim Form for the payment of Dog Injury Claims and/or Consumer Food Purchase Claims.  Only one Dog Injury Claim and/or one Consumer Food Purchase Claim Form per Household are permitted. 

If the total of the timely, valid and approved Claims submitted by all Settlement Class Members exceeds the available relief, minus any covered costs and expenses, each eligible Settlement Class Member’s award shall be reduced proportionally (pro rata).  If the total of the timely, valid and approved Claims is less than the available relief, minus any covered costs and expenses, each eligible Settlement Class Member’s award shall be proportionally (pro rata) increased to no more than two-times the value of the timely, valid and approved Claim.  If there are residual funds, including Unpaid Funds from uncashed checks, Settlement Class Counsel will ask the Court to make additional distributions to Settlement Class Members if such distributions are economically feasible and will not exceed more than two-times the value of the timely, valid and approved Claims.  If the costs associated with further distributions to all Settlement Class Members would constitute 30% or more of the Unpaid Funds, the additional distributions of the Unpaid Funds to Settlement Class Members shall go only to those Settlement Class Members who selected electronic payment or to Settlement Class Members who cashed their paper check. After such distribution(s), the Court shall order any remaining residual funds, if any, shall be paid to Unleashed Pet Rescue, a non-profit whose work relates to issues in this litigation.  No portion of the Settlement Fund shall revert or be repaid to Defendants.  

Dog Injury Claims.  Settlement Class Members asserting a Dog Injury Claim shall provide documents showing screening or treatment of their dog for signs consistent with consumption of excess levels of Vitamin D as a result of the use or consumption of Hill’s Products.  By submitting a Dog Injury Claim, the Settlement Class Member is authorizing the Settlement Administrator, in its discretion, to fully investigate the validity of the Dog Injury Claim, including by contacting the treating veterinarian who treated the Settlement Class Member’s allegedly injured dog and by seeking the input of Settlement Class Counsel, Defendants’ Counsel and/or Hill’s.  

Only documented out-of-pocket expenses will be considered for reimbursement. Simply submitting a claimed expense is not a guarantee that the expense will be reimbursed. 

Any Dog Injury Claim submitted seeking reimbursement of an amount below $500 per dog shall be resolved by the Settlement Administrator in its discretion, and in consultation with Settlement Class Counsel about such claims.  Any Dog Injury Claim submitted seeking reimbursement for an amount greater than $500 per dog will be paid only upon the recommendation of the Settlement Administrator and approval of Settlement Class Counsel.  If Defendants’ Counsel has a good faith belief that a particular claim seeking reimbursement above $500 per dog requires additional review, Defendants’ Counsel and Settlement Class Counsel shall meet and confer about the claim.  If the Parties are unable to agree after the meet and confer process, Settlement Class Counsel and/or Defendants’ Counsel have the right to request that the claim be reviewed by a mediator jointly selected by the Parties, whose time will be paid from the Settlement Fund for making these determinations.  While the Settlement Administrator and/or Settlement Class Counsel may, in its discretion, seek input from Hill’s and Defendants’ Counsel about a claim, neither Hill’s nor Defendants’ Counsel is obligated to review all claims.  Note that for any Dog Injury Claim, the Settlement Administrator, Settlement Class Counsel, a mediator jointly selected by the Parties, or the Court may request additional proof, including testimony under oath.  

Settlement Class Members who have already received reimbursement for their same claims from Hill’s or whose veterinarians already received reimbursement for their same claims on the Settlement Class Members’ behalf are not eligible to receive duplicative payments.

Consumer Food Purchase Claims.  Settlement Class Members may submit a Consumer Food Purchase Claim for up to the full price of the purchased Hill’s Products, unless they have already received reimbursement for their food purchases from Hill’s, a retailer, or otherwise.  Each Settlement Class Member may elect to submit either (1) a Consumer Food Purchase Claim with Proof of Purchase to recover the purchase price or (2) a Consumer Food Purchase Claim without Proof of Purchase to receive the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price for up to a total value of $20.  No Settlement Class Member may submit both types of claims.

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10. HOW WILL YOU DETERMINE IF SOMEONE HAS A VALID VETERINARY BILLS OR VALID PROOF OF PURCHASE?

You will be asked on the Claim Form for information related to your Claims.  The Claim Form will be submitted under penalty of perjury.  The Settlement Administrator will audit these answers, so please do your best to be accurate in your answers and to provide all documents that support your Dog Injury Claims or accurate Proof of Purchases.

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11. HOW DO I GET PAID?

You must submit a Claim Form in order to get paid.  You can complete the Claim Form on this website or submit a claim by email ([email protected]) by 11:59 CT on July 2, 2021, or complete the  form and ensure it is postmarked on or before July 2, 2021.

All Claim Forms must be completed, signed and submitted online or postmarked on or before July 2, 2021.  Submit paper forms to the following address:

Hill’s Pet Food Settlement Program
c/o Settlement Administrator
PO Box 0097
Warminster, PA 18974-0097


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12. WHEN WILL I GET MY PAYMENT?

The Court will hold a hearing on July 27, 2021 at 10:00 am CT, referred to as a Final Approval Hearing, to decide whether to approve the Settlement.  If the Court approves the Settlement after that, there may be appeals taken by objectors to the Settlement.  Resolving such objector appeals often takes time, perhaps more than a year.  Progress of the payments will be posted on this website.  Please be patient.

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13. WHAT AM I GIVING UP TO GET A PAYMENT?

Unless you exclude yourself, you will remain in the Settlement Class, and that means that you can not sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Defendants or the supplier responsible for manufacturing the vitamin mix containing too much Vitamin D, DSM Nutritional Products LLC, about the legal issues in this case.  It also means that all of the Court’s orders relating to this Settlement will apply to you and legally bind you.  You will be bound by a Release of Claims that describes exactly the legal claims that you give up.

EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT

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

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14. HOW DO I GET OUT OF THE SETTLEMENT?

If you ask to be excluded, you will not get any payment from the Settlement, and you cannot object to the Settlement.  You will not be legally bound by anything that happens in the lawsuit.  You may be able to sue (or continue to sue) Defendants in the future.  If you want to be excluded from this Settlement, you must submit a Request for Exclusion even if you have already sued Defendants.

To validly exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you must sign the letter personally.  The signature of your attorney representing you in this matter will not be accepted by the Court.  Each Settlement Class Member must sign his, her or its own Exclusion Request Form.    

The letter must contain the following information: 

  1. the name, address, and all digits of the Social Security or Tax ID number of the Settlement Class Member requesting exclusion; 
  2. the physical signature and the signature of anyone else required under law to bind the Settlement Class Member who is seeking to be excluded (not an electronic copy);
  3.  the date the request was signed;
  4.  the type of claim (i.e. whether it is a Dog Injury Claim or Consumer Food Purchase Claim);
  5.  a statement that you are choosing to exclude yourself from the Settlement; and
  6. the name of your attorney, if you have one.  

Your signature must be made and dated on or after March 8, 2021.  Your letter must be received by June 21, 2021. Send the letter to:

Hill’s Pet Food Settlement Program Exclusions
c/o Settlement Administrator
PO Box 0097
Warminster, PA 18974-0097

You can’t exclude yourself on the phone or by e-mail.  If you do not provide the information required to exclude yourself, you’ll be deemed to have waived your right to exclude yourself and will be a member of the Settlement Classes.  

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15. IF I EXCLUDE MYSELF, CAN I MAINTAIN MY LAWSUIT AGAINST DEFENDANTS?

If you exclude yourself and you follow the requirements listed in FAQ 14, you may sue or continue to sue Defendants because you will not be bound by the Settlement.

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16. IF I DON'T EXCLUDE MYSELF, CAN I SUE DEFENDANTS FOR THE SAME THING LATER?

No.  Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue Defendants for the claims that this Settlement resolves.  If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately.  You must exclude yourself, if eligible, from this Settlement Class to continue your own lawsuit.  Remember, the exclusion deadline is June 21, 2021.

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17. IF I EXCLUDE MYSELF, CAN I GET MONEY FROM THIS SETTLEMENT?

No.  

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18. DO I HAVE A LAWYER IN THIS CASE?

The Court has appointed Gary E. Mason, Scott A. Kamber, Michael R. Reese and Rachel E. Schwartz to represent the class.  These lawyers are referred to as “Settlement Class Counsel.”  If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.  

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19. WHAT IF I HIRE MY OWN LAWYER?

You may receive letters or calls from lawyers seeking to represent you in this case.  You have the right to consult an attorney for advice about whether to stay in the Settlement Class and accept the Settlement.  You should be cautious, however, about advice from attorneys recommending that you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class so that they can represent you in an individual lawsuit against Defendants because these attorneys have a financial motive in having you hire them.

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20. HOW WILL THE LAWYERS BE PAID?

Class Counsel will file a motion to the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses not to exceed one-third of the Settlement Fund to be paid from the Settlement Fund.  The Court may award less than these amounts.  These fees represent compensation to the lawyers, paralegals and law firm staff who participated in the litigation against Defendants.  A copy of their Fee and Expense Motion will be uploaded to this website after May 28, 2021.

If you choose to hire your own lawyer, you will be responsible for that lawyer’s fees and expenses.

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21. 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, including the requests being made by Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and Litigation Expenses or the Service Awards being sought for Class Representatives and those plaintiffs who helped litigate the case for the Class.  You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement or what you do not like about the Settlement.  The Court will consider your views.

You cannot both exclude yourself from the Settlement and object at the same time.  If you exclude yourself, you cannot object to any part of the Settlement.  You have to remain in the Settlement Class in order to maintain your right to object to any part of the Settlement.  To object, you must file a written objection with the Clerk of Court.  You must include your name, mailing address and telephone number.  You must identify if you have submitted a valid Dog Injury and/or Consumer Food Purchase Claim. You must also clearly state the specific legal and factual reasons why you object to the Settlement, whether the objection applies to a subset or the entire class, and attach copies of any materials that you intend to submit to the Court or present at the Final Approval Hearing.  If you’re represented by a lawyer in connection with the issues involved in this litigation, you must include the lawyer’s name, email address, mailing address and telephone number. 

All objections must be personally signed by you with an actual ink signature, even if you’re represented by a lawyer.  Any request to appear and present an argument at the Final Approval Hearing must also be specifically stated. 

In addition to filing your objection with the Clerk of Court, you must also mail the objection to each address listed below:

Settlement Class Counsel:

Gary E. Mason
MASON LIETZ & KLINGER LLP
5101 Wisconsin Avenue NW | Suite 305
Washington, DC 20016

Scott A. Kamber
KAMBERLAW LLC
201 Milwaukee Street, Suite 200
Denver, CO  80206

Michael R. Reese
REESE LLP
100 West 93rd Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10025

Rachel E. Schwartz
Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP
460 Nichols Road, Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64112

Counsel for Defendants:

Richard B. Goetz
O’MELVENY & MYERS LLP
400 South Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA  90071

Hannah Y. Chanoine
O’MELVENY & MYERS LLP
Times Square Tower
7 Times Square
New York, NY 10036

Thomas P. Schult
Jennifer Wieland
BERKOWITZ OLIVER LLP
4121 West 83rd Street, Suite 155
Prairie Village, KS 66208

Settlement Administrator:

Hill’s Pet Food Settlement Program
c/o Settlement Administrator
PO Box 97
Warminster, PA 18974-0097

The Court:

Clerk of the Court
United States District Court for the District of Kansas,
500 State Avenue
Kansas City, Kansas 66101

The objection must be received no later than June 21, 2021. 

If you object, you may be asked to answer questions by the attorneys, or the Court, about your reasons for objecting.  No person or entity or other Class Members may object for, or on behalf of, any other Class Member.

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22. WHEN AND WHERE WILL THE COURT DECIDE WHETHER TO APPROVE THE SETTLEMENT?

The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing at 10:00 a.m. CT. on July 27, 2021, by Zoom Video. The Zoom Video link will be posted on this website.  At this hearing the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, among other considerations.  If there are objections, the Court will consider them.  The Court will listen to people who have previously asked to speak at the hearing.  The Court may also decide how much to pay Class Counsel.  After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement.  We do not know how long these decisions will take.

The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check this website for updates.

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23. DO I HAVE TO COME TO THE HEARING?

No.  Settlement Class Counsel will answer questions the Court may have.  You are welcome, however, 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.

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24. MAY I SPEAK AT THE HEARING?

If you timely object to the Settlement, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing.  To do so, you must make such a request in your objection or send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear in the Hill’s Settlement.”  Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature.  Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be received no later than June 21, 2021, and be sent to the Clerk of the Court, Class Counsel, and Defense Counsel, at the addresses in FAQ 21.  You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself.

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25. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOTHING AT ALL?

If you do nothing, you will not get any payment from this Settlement.  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 Defendants about the legal issues in this case.

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26. IS MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAWSUIT AVAILABLE?

Yes.  If you have any questions or require additional information, you should refer to this website and/or contact any of the individuals who are Counsel to the Plaintiffs and the Class in this lawsuit: 

1-833-537-1191 

En el sitio web hay una copia completa de esta notificación en español.

Submit your Claim Form on this website

PLEASE DO NOT WRITE OR CALL THE COURT OR THE CLERK’S OFFICE FOR INFORMATION

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This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel and controlled by the Settlement Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.

For more information please call 1.833.537.1191

Documents

Please read for a full explanation of the settlement and your options and all applicable timelines.

Contact

Contact us with any inquiries, comments, and/or requests.

Submit Claim

Click here to safely and securely submit a Claim Form.

Important Dates

  • Exclusion Deadline

    Monday, June 21, 2021
    You must complete and mail your request for exclusion form so that it is received no later than Monday, June 21, 2021.
  • Objection Deadline

    Monday, June 21, 2021
    You must mail your objection(s) and/or notice of intent to appear at the Final Approval Hearing so that it/they are received no later than Monday, June 21, 2021.
  • Claim Form Deadline

    Friday, July 2, 2021
    You must submit your Claim Form online no later than Friday, July 2, 2021, or mail your completed paper Claim Form so that it is postmarked no later than Friday, July 2, 2021.
  • Final Approval Hearing Date

    Tuesday, July 27, 2021
    The Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27, 2021 at 10:00 CT. Please check this website for updates.

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