CINCINNATI (Legal Newsline) – Preliminary approval has been given to a class action settlement involving Emery Federal Credit Union.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Cincinnati Division granted the motion on Jan. 25.

The settlement follows a lawsuit filed by Frank and Shelly Palombaro; Kevin and Jennifer McAlpin; Gary Ratcliff and David and Melinda Alvarado; and others who took out a mortgage from the credit union between 2009 and 2014.

They claimed the financial institution violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and had an unethical relationship with Genuine Title LLC, a title services company. 

“The court finds that the settlement was reached through an arms-length negotiation after due investigation and discovery by the plaintiffs’ counsel and that the settlement provides significant benefits for the Emery class,” Judge Susan Dlott wrote

The court document states that notices will go out to the last known address of all those who may be covered by the settlement.

“Members of the Emery class shall have the right to opt-out of the Emery class, as provided for in section 9 of the settlement agreement, by sending a written request for exclusion to the settlement administrator no later than the exclusion deadline defined in this order," the order approving the settlement says.

Plaintiffs attorneys are from the firms Smith, Gildea and Schmidt; Joseph Greenwald and Laake; Keathing Muething & Klekamp. They will later petition for attorneys fees.

Individuals who do not send in a request for exclusion will be automatically included in the settlement.

However, there is a clause that allows Emery to back out of the agreement if enough exclusions are reached.

“If more than five percent of the members of the Emery Class submit complete and valid requests for exclusion, Emery shall have the option to withdraw from the settlement upon written notice to the court, filed up to thirty days after the exclusion deadline,” the court order states.

Those party to the agreement have also been given the option to oppose it as it stands.

“Emery class members who choose to object to the settlement must file written objections to the settlement with the court and serve copies of any such objections on counsel for settling parties by not later than the objection deadline,” the order states.

A final hearing is expected on July 10 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse. 

Dlott wrote that at the Final Fairness Hearing, the court will consider, inter alia, "any timely objections to the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the settlement, the dismissal with prejudice of this action, whether class counsel’s petition for attorneys fees and expenses should be granted," and other issues.

The court order also states that if the agreement fails to receive final approval it becomes null and void. 

Kurtzman Carson Consultants has been named the settlement administrator while Frank and Shelly Palombaro, Kevin and Jennifer McAlpin, Gary Ratcliff and David and Melinda Alvarado are class representatives of the Emery class.

The Emery Federal Credit Union first opened in 1939 for those employed by Emery Industries. It expanded in 1984 and again in 2016. The financial organization can now be used by anyone in the Hamilton, Butler or Warren counties of Ohio.

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