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February 21, 2013

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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

NPS Outlines Impacts of Sequester of Visitors

Class Action Settlement Leads to $6 Billion in Processing Fee Refunds to Merchants Who Accepted Visa and MasterCard since 2004

NPS Outlines Impacts of Sequester of Visitors

The sequestration of the federal budget is all but certain at this point. The National Park Service asked Parks to prepare a report of the closures and impacts that a 5% funding reduction would have on visitors and Park programs for the remainder of the fiscal year.  An internal memo recently obtained by AOA outlines some of the impacts.

• Visitors Centers will be closed in some Parks including the closure of the Ohana Visitors Center at Mt. Ranier, Jenny Lake Visitors Center at Grand Teton, and the Province Lands Visitor Center at Cape Cod.  The closure of information stations and visitor centers in Grand Teton is projected to impact 300,000 visitors and the Cape Cod closure 260,000 visitors.  Denali will delay opening roads and visitor centers.
• Five remote campgrounds and picnic areas will be closed at Great Smoky Mountain National Park impacting an estimated 54,000 visitors among its reductions.
• Opening Tioga and Glacier Point roads at Yosemite will be delayed by four weeks.
• Yellowstone will delay spring road openings inside the Park and at its south, east and northeast entrances.  Access from the east (U.S. 20 from Cody) and  from the south (U.S. 287) will be delayed by 2 to 3 weeks. Access from the northeast using Chief Joseph Highway and Beartooth Pass will be delayed 3 to 4 weeks.  NPS says the delays will have significant impacts on Park fees and concessioners reducing visitation to Old Faithful by 21,000.
• Glacier will delay opening Going to the Sun Road by two weeks. 
• Grand Canyon will delay opening the East and West Rim Drives.
• Interpretive and guided ranger programs will be diminished in many Parks as seasonal employees and rangers are cut. 
• New River Gorge will reduce maintenance of the access roads, including Fayette Station River Access. 
• Youth program and invasive species eradication program are expected to be cut.
These are just a sample of the NPS’ sequestration plans. 

The Forest Service and BLM have not provided information regarding the impact of sequestration on their operations.

Class Action Settlement Leads to $6 Billion in Processing Fee Refunds to Merchants Who Accepted Visa and MasterCard since 2004.  Read this Before You Sign-Up for a Refund.

The following information is provided on the Visa and MasterCard settlement related to alleged antitrust activities.  This bulletin is provided for information purposes by AOA’s processing partner at Fund Your Dreams and should not be construed as legal advice regarding whether you should join the class or not.  Joining the class might limit your ability to sue Visa and MasterCard in the future over similar issues. Consult with your own attorney regarding the advisability of joining the class to file a claim for a refund. Please read the entire document and consult qualified legal counsel. 

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has ordered a notification program about preliminary approval of a Class Settlement among merchants, Visa, MasterCard, and other Defendants in a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that merchants paid excessive fees for accepting Visa and MasterCard because of an alleged conspiracy among the Defendants.

Settlement Benefits
The monetary portion of the Class Settlement consists of two funds. The first is a cash fund in the amount of $6.05 billion. Any person, business or other entity that accepted Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards in the U.S. at any time between January 1, 2004 and November 28, 2012 may be eligible to receive a payment from the $6.05 billion fund. The second is a fund equivalent to a portion of interchange fees attributable to certain merchants that accept Visa or MasterCard credit cards for an eight-month period to start by July 29, 2013. That fund is estimated to be approximately $1.2 billion. Additionally, the Settlement will require Visa and MasterCard to modify some of their rules for merchants that accept their cards.

Proposed Classes
 There are two Classes in this proposed Class Settlement:
A Rule 23(b)(3) Settlement Class (“Cash Settlement Class”), which includes all persons, businesses, and other entities that accepted any Visa or MasterCard cards in the U.S. at any time from January 1, 2004 to November 28, 2012, and A Rule 23(b)(2) Settlement Class (“Rule Changes Settlement Class”), which includes all persons, businesses, and other entities that as of November 28, 2012 or in the future accept any Visa or MasterCard cards in the U.S.

To Pre-Register to be eligible for either of these settlements, follow the link to the registration page.

Requesting Exclusion or Objecting
Members of the Cash Settlement Class can exclude themselves from that Class. Members of the Rule Changes Settlement Class cannot exclude themselves from that Class. Members of either Class can object to any part of the proposed Class Settlement. The deadline to object or to be excluded is May 28, 2013. The long-form notice explains how to request exclusion or object.  Some of the largest businesses and retail associations that were party to the $7 billion dollar proposed settlement from the card associations are opting out!  If Federal Court Judge John Gleeson accepts the settlement, which will reportedly be submitted for the court's preliminary approval by October 19, it would be the largest settlement in Sherman Antitrust history.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), co-author of the 2010 Durbin Amendment to rein in debit card fees, is strongly urging other merchants to reject the proposed settlement, as well. Senator Durbin, in remarks published in the Congressional Record August 2, 2012, said that the interchange fee settlement was negotiated in secret by "attorneys representing a small number of businesses.

In addition, the Senator stated that the settlement will allow Visa and MasterCard to unfairly set interchange fees and unwisely grant them immunity from all interchange fee antitrust claims past and future. We agree that this settlement does nothing to rein in Visa and MasterCard's unreasonable fees and charges now, and in the future.

Class Counsel - The Court has appointed the law firms of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, Berger & Montague, PC, and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP to represent the Class as Class Counsel.

Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses
For work done through final approval of the settlement by the District Court, Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys’ fees in an amount that is a reasonable proportion of the Cash Settlement Fund, not to exceed 11.5% of the Cash Settlement Fund of $6.05 billion and 11.5% of the Interchange Fund estimated to be $1.2 billion to compensate all of the lawyers and their law firms that have worked on the class case. Class Counsel will also request reimbursement of their expenses (not including the administrative costs of settlement or notice), not to exceed $40 million and up to $200,000 per Class Plaintiff in service awards for their efforts on behalf of the classes.

By April 11, 2013, Class Counsel will file papers seeking the Court’s final approval of the Class Settlement Agreement, and the Court’s approval of attorneys’ fees and expenses. Class Counsel will also file any additional details regarding the Plan of Administration and Distribution. As these papers become available, they will be posted on this website.

Fairness Hearing
At 10:00 a.m. on September 12, 2013, the Court has scheduled a hearing to decide if the Class Settlement will be finally approved. The hearing will be held at the Courthouse for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Claim Forms
If the Court grants final approval of the Class Settlement, Claim Forms will be sent to all known Class members. Claim Forms will also be available at this website or by calling the Class Administrator at the toll-free number shown in the link provided.

If you have additional questions on this article, or any other topic, call Kim Callaway, CPP at 888.393.2329 or 303.653.7964, or email kim@fydtoday.com.

 

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