Wayside Church, et al. v. Van Buren County, et al.,

Frequently Asked Questions

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To qualify for a Settlement Payment, you must complete and submit a Claim. You can file your Claim online at this website or send it by U.S. Mail to:

Wayside Church v. Van Buren County
c/o Kroll Settlement Administration
P.O. Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391

The deadline to submit a Claim Form is 11:59 PM ET on September 5, 2023.

No matter which method you choose to file your Claim, please read the claim form carefully and provide all the information required.
The Court authorized this website because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise before the Court decides whether to give final approval to the Settlement, as described in FAQ 19.

Wayside Church, Henderson Hodgens, and others (the “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants violated their rights by failing to give Plaintiffs the proceeds from the sale of the tax-foreclosed properties formerly owned by Plaintiffs that exceeded the unpaid taxes, fees, and other costs associated with those properties. These claims have become known as “surplus-proceeds claims.” Plaintiffs here were among the first to assert a putative class action for surplus proceeds in Michigan. Defendants deny Plaintiffs’ allegations.

For additional information about the claims, arguments, and history of the case, you may view the pleadings and other important documents filed on the documents section of this website. The complete docket or court file can be reviewed via the Court’s electronic docket known as PACER at miwd.uscourts.gov, but you must register for an account and pay fees to review filings. You may also review the docket online for free by visiting any of the court’s locations. The addresses and rules governing courthouse entry are also available at miwd.uscourts.gov.

In a class action, one or more people called “class representatives” sue on behalf of a group of people who may have similar claims. The people together are a “class” or “class members.” The individuals who sue—and all the class members like them—are called the plaintiffs. The entities that they sue (in this case, all of the counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the western half of Michigan’s lower peninsula except Branch, Clinton, Charlevoix, Keweenaw, Luce, and Mecosta Counties) are called the “Defendants”. In a class action, the Court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class. The Court has decided that this lawsuit can be a class action because it meets the procedural requirements which govern class actions.
The Court has not found in favor of Plaintiffs or Defendants. Instead, the Parties have agreed to a Settlement. By agreeing to the Settlement, the Parties avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial, and if the Settlement is approved by the Court, the Settlement Class will receive the benefits described on this website. Defendants deny all legal claims in this case but are settling to avoid the uncertainties and costs attendant with litigation. Plaintiffs and their lawyers think the proposed Settlement is best for everyone who is affected.

The Class includes the following individuals: “All Persons, their heirs and successors, who held a non-contingent interest in an Eligible Property at the time that property was foreclosed on by a County and which was sold between January 1, 2013 and ending on December 31, 2020 by that County.” (Common examples of non-contingent interests in real estate include ownership and any type of lien.)

All counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and all counties in the western half of Michigan’s lower peninsula, except for Branch, Charlevoix, Clinton, Keweenaw, Luce, and Mecosta Counties, are included in the Settlement. Here are the counties agreeing to the proposed Settlement:

  • Alger County
  • Allegan County
  • Antrim County
  • Baraga County
  • Barry County
  • Benzie County
  • Berrien County
  • Calhoun County
  • Cass County
  • Chippewa County
  • Delta County
  • Dickinson County
  • Eaton County
  • Emmet County
  • Gogebic County
  • Grand Traverse County
  • Hillsdale County
  • Houghton County
  • Ingham County
  • Ionia County
  • Iron County
  • Kalamazoo County
  • Kalkaska County
  • Kent County
  • Lake County
  • Leelanau County
  • Mackinac County
  • Manistee County
  • Marquette County
  • Mason County
  • Menominee County
  • Missaukee County
  • Montcalm County
  • Muskegon County
  • Newaygo County
  • Oceana County
  • Ontonagon County
  • Osceola County
  • Ottawa County
  • Saint Joseph County
  • Schoolcraft County
  • Van Buren County
  • Wexford County

If you are still not sure whether you are included or you have additional questions, you can review the FAQs on this website, contact the Claims Administrator using the contact us page of this website, or call toll-free at 1-833-709-0093.

In consideration for the Settlement and the release and bar order contained in Paragraph 5 of the Settlement Agreement, each Class Member who submits a valid claim will usually receive 80% of the surplus proceeds from the sale of the property less the amount the court awards to cover attorney fees. If more than one valid claim is made for surplus proceeds from a property, the total amount available to pay claims connected with that property will be 80% of the surplus proceeds less the court-awarded attorney fees. The total amount cannot be calculated until all claims have been submitted and validated.
Settlement Payments to Class Members will be made only after the Court grants final approval to the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved (see “Fairness Hearing” in FAQ 19). If there are appeals, resolving them can take time. Please be patient.

If you do not wish to be eligible for a Settlement Payment, and you want to keep the right to sue Defendants 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 it is sometimes referred to as “opting-out” of the Class.

To exclude yourself individually from the Settlement, you must send a timely letter by mail to:

Wayside Church v. Van Buren County
 c/o Kroll Settlement Administration – Exclusion Request
 P.O. Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391

Your request to be excluded from the Settlement must include the following: (i) name; (ii) current mailing address; (iii) telephone number; (iv) address, parcel number, and/or legal description of the Eligible Property; (v) County in which the Eligible Property is located; (vi) year of post-foreclosure sale of Eligible Property; and (vii) a statement that the Eligible Claimant wishes to be excluded from the Settlement Class. Any request for exclusion must be signed by the person or entity requesting exclusion (not by an attorney). Absent excluding yourself or “opting-out” you are otherwise a member of the Settlement Class.

Your exclusion request must be postmarked by July 22, 2023.

You cannot ask to be excluded on the phone, by email, or at this website. Opt-outs must be made individually and cannot be made on behalf of other members of the Settlement Class. 

No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue Defendants for the claims that the Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Settlement to pursue your own lawsuit.

Unless you opt-out of the Settlement, you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against Defendants about the issues in this case, including any existing litigation, arbitration, or proceeding. Unless you exclude yourself, all of the decisions and judgments by the Court will bind you.

The Settlement Agreement is available in the documents section of this website. The Settlement Agreement provides more detail regarding the Release and describes the Released Claims with specific descriptions in necessary, accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully.

No. You will not get a Settlement Payment from the Settlement Fund if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.

The Court has appointed Fink Bressack, James Shek, and Lewis, Reed, & Allen PC to represent the Class. They are called “Lead Counsel.” They are experienced in handling similar class action cases. You may contact Lead Counsel using the information below:

Fink Bressack
38500 Woodward Ave.
Suite 350
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
(248) 971-2500

James Shek
P.O. Box A
Allegan, MI 49010
(269) 673-6125

Lewis, Reed, & Allen PC
136 East Michigan Ave
Ste. 800
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 388-7600

You are not required to hire your own lawyer because Lead Counsel is working on your behalf. If you want to hire your own lawyer, you certainly can, but you will have to pay that lawyer yourself. If you do hire your own lawyer, they may enter an appearance for you and represent you individually in this case.
You do not have to pay Lead Counsel, or anyone else, to participate. Instead, Lead Counsel intend to apply for a fee award equal to 20% of the amount to be paid by Court order to each Eligible Claimant, which amount shall be deducted from each Class Member’s distribution. The Defendants will not object to that application.

If you are a member of the Settlement Class (and do not exclude yourself from the Class), you can object to any part of the Settlement by sending a timely letter by mail to:

Wayside Church v. Van Buren County
 c/o Kroll Settlement Administration - Objections
P.O. Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391

Your letter must include the following:

  1. A caption or title that identifies it as “Objection to Class Settlement in Wayside Church, et al. v. Van Buren County, et al., Case No. 1:14-cv-01274”;
  2. Your name, current address, and telephone number;
  3. The name, address, and telephone number of any attorney for you with respect to the objection;
  4. The factual basis and legal grounds for the objection, including any documents sufficient to establish the basis for your standing as a Class Member;
  5. Identification of the case name, case number, and court for any prior class action lawsuit in which you and/or your attorney (if applicable) has objected to a proposed class action settlement; and

Your objection must be postmarked by July 22, 2023.
Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. You can object to the Settlement only if you do not exclude yourself. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object to the Settlement because it no longer affects you.

The Court had scheduled a Fairness Hearing at 9:00 a.m. ET on November 8, 2023, at the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Kalamazoo Division, 174 Federal Building, 410 W. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. This Fairness Hearing has been adjourned and will be rescheduled pending new Order from the Court. Please refer to Order Adjourning Fairness Hearing in the documents section of this website. 

The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional mailed notice, so it is a good idea to check this website for updates periodically. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court will also consider the requests by Lead Counsel for attorney fees. If there are objections, the Court will consider them at that time. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. It is unknown how long these decisions will take.

No. Lead Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. You are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense.
If you attend the Fairness Hearing, you may ask the Court for permission to speak if you have timely objected and you so choose. However, you cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.
If you are a member of the Settlement Class and do nothing, meaning you do not file a timely Claim, you will not get a Settlement Payment. Further, unless you exclude yourself, you will be bound by the judgment entered by the Court.

For more information, you may contact the Claims Administrator using the contact us section of this website, toll-free at 1-833-709-0093 or first-class mail at Wayside Church v. Van Buren County, c/o Kroll Settlement Administration, P.O. Box 225391, New York, NY 10150-5391. For a complete, definitive statement of the Settlement terms, refer to the Settlement Agreement at this website.

No, you do not need to provide a Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number to submit a Claim.

This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel and controlled by Kroll Settlement Administration, the Claims Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.
Kroll Settlement Administration, LLC
PO Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391


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


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Submit Claim

Click here to safely and securely submit a Claim Form.

Important Dates

  • Claim Form Deadline

    Tuesday, September 5, 2023 You must submit your Claim Form online no later than Tuesday, September 5, 2023, or mail your completed paper Claim Form so that it is postmarked no later than September 5, 2023.
  • Exclusion Deadline

    Saturday, July 22, 2023 You must complete and mail your request for exclusion form so that it is postmarked no later than July 22, 2023.
  • Objection Deadline

    Saturday, July 22, 2023 You must mail your objection(s) and/or notice of intent to appear at the Final Approval Hearing so that it/they are postmarked no later than July 22, 2023.
  • Fairness Hearing

    Tuesday, February 13, 2024 The Fairness Hearing has be rescheduled for 9:00 a.m. ET on  February 13, 2024. Please refer to the Notice of Hearing - Motion for Final Approval in the "documents" section of this website.

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