NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

A court authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.

 If your personal belongings were unreasonably taken and later destroyed by California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in Berkeley, Oakland, or Emeryville between December 13, 2014 and October 31, 2019, and you were homeless at the time, your rights may be affected by a class action lawsuit. 

This lawsuit is called Sanchez, et al. v. Caltrans, et al. and is in Alameda County Superior Court (the Court).  The Court decided this lawsuit should be a class action, with Kimberlee Sanchez, James Leone, and Patricia Moore as representatives suing on behalf of a “class,” or group of people, that could include you.  If you are a member of the class, your legal rights will be affected.  Please read this notice carefully.

This notice summarizes your rights and options before trial.  If you are included in the class, you must decide either to stay in the class and to be bound by whatever results, or to ask to be excluded and keep your right to sue Caltrans individually.  There has been no money awarded as of now and no guarantee there will be.

Your Legal Rights and Options in this Lawsuit
Do NothingStay in this lawsuit.  Await the outcome.  Give up certain rights.
By doing nothing, you keep the possibility of getting money or benefits that may come from a trial or a settlement.  But, you give up any rights to sue Caltrans separately about the same legal claims.
Ask to be ExcludedGet out of this lawsuit.  Get no benefits from it.  Keep rights.
If you ask to be excluded and money or benefits are later awarded, you won’t share in those.  But, you keep any rights to sue Caltrans separately about the same legal claims.

AM I AFFECTED?

The Court defined the class as: “All persons whose personal belongings were unreasonably taken from them by [Caltrans] in the Cities of Berkeley, Oakland, or Emeryville and later destroyed, and who were homeless at the time, from December 13, 2014 through October 31, 2019.”   If this describes you, you are a member of the class.

You are NOT in the class if:

  • A City or other agency that is not Caltrans took or destroyed your belongings.
  • Your belongings were not destroyed (you got them back).
  • Your belongings were not taken from Caltrans’ land in the Cities of Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville.
  • Your belongings were taken by Caltrans before December 13, 2014 or after October 31, 2019.

WHAT IS THIS CASE ABOUT?

Plaintiffs contend that Caltrans violated rights of homeless individuals in Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville by unreasonably taking and later destroying their property without notice in violation of California law.  The lawsuit seeks to change Caltrans’ practices in Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland, and asks for recovery of monetary damages for the class.

Caltrans denies that it has violated California law or the Constitution.  Caltrans also claims that the class representatives’ and the class’s claims are procedurally defective and lack merit.

The Court has not decided whether the class or Caltrans is right. Unless the case resolves before trial, the lawyers for the class must prove the class’ claims when the case goes to trial.  If you are a member of the class and the case proceeds to trial, you do not need to go to the trial, but you are free to attend.

WHO REPRESENTS ME?

The Court has approved the law firms of WilmerHale LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the East Bay Community Law Center, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to represent you as “class counsel.”  You do not have to pay class counsel, or anyone else, to participate.  Instead, if the class is awarded money or benefits because of this lawsuit, class counsel may ask the Court for attorneys’ fees and costs, which would be paid by Caltrans, or out of any money recovered, before giving the rest to the class.  You may hire your own lawyer instead of being represented by class counsel.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

You have a choice of whether to stay in the class or not, and you must decide this by January 31, 2020.

Option 1: Do nothing. You’re in the class.  What that means: If the class succeeds in court, you could get a share of the money awarded at the end of the case (you will be notified about how to obtain a share).  If the court rules in favor of Caltrans, you will get no money, and you will not be able to bring or continue a lawsuit for yourself for anything you lost before the class action lawsuit was decided.  You will be legally bound by all orders and judgments of the Court.

Option 2: Opt Out. You will not be in the class.  What that means: You will not be bound by what happens in the class action lawsuit one way or the other.  If the class succeeds, you will not get any of the money awarded to the class.

If you opt out, you may still be able to sue for yourself (for example in small claims court), even if the class loses.

HOW DO I EXCLUDE MYSELF FROM THE CLASS?

To exclude yourself from the class, you must complete an online Opt-Out Form by January 31, 2020.  The Opt-Out Form is available electronically at www.sanchezlawsuit.com/optout.  If you do not have access to the internet, please call 628-221-7979.

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

If you need additional information about this lawsuit, including documents filed, visit www.sanchezlawsuit.com.  If you have questions about this lawsuit, please leave a message at 628-221-7979.