The opt-out period is now over

The opt-out period in the class action lawsuit relating to bingo/lottery licensing fees is now over, as of midnight on May 15, 2016. The City of Windsor and Town of Tecumseh are pleased at the high level of community engagement and discussion that has occurred about the important issues associated with the lawsuit.

Various issues concerning the opt-out period remain before the courts and will be addressed by the parties in that forum in the coming weeks. While the courts consider the various remaining issues, the City and Town will not be commenting until there are further developments.

Opt Out

Already Opted Out? Please let us know. Click here.

WHAT THIS LAWSUIT MEANS TO YOU.

The Facts:

  • Windsor and Tecumseh are defending class action lawsuits that stem from licence fees for bingo and other charitable gaming events.
  • These are licence fees that ANY organization paid in order to conduct bingo events for fundraising purposes, dating back to 1993.
  • The lawsuit could result in an estimated loss of over $70 million.
  • Insurance will not cover the $70 million. This will be left to the taxpayers of Windsor and Tecumseh.
  • The people (of Windsor and Tecumseh) who support these organizations will be the ones who end up paying for their financial gain.
  • Organizations made millions more than the City or Town charged in licensing fees, which were always set at $165 or below.
  • Many organizations are unaware that they are even involved in this lawsuit.
  • The only way out of the lawsuit is for an organization to OPT OUT.

It’s time to support our local community, businesses, and services. It’s time to #OptOut at helpwindsortecumseh.com

HOW CAN I HELP?

I’M AN AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS RAISED MONEY USING BINGO EVENTS:

  1. Opt Out right now.
  2. Spread the word and get other clubs, organizations and charities to join you in Opting Out.

I’M A CONCERNED CITIZEN:

  1. Reach out to the organizations that you support and urge them to Opt Out. Here are some key questions to discuss:
    • Is our organization involved in this lawsuit?
    • Do you know that an organization may be a part of this lawsuit without even knowing it?
    • Are you aware that the taxpayers of Windsor and Tecumseh - the supporters of your organization - may have to settle the bill for the lawsuit?
  2. Spread the word that this issue is important to your community.

HOW DO I OPT OUT?

You must ensure that you have the authority of your club, charity or organization to opt out. If you are not sure, please consult with your board of directors, executive director or other members of your group to make sure the decision to opt out is properly authorized.

Once your organization has decided to opt out, doing so is simple.

Or, if you prefer, you can print and fill out the attached form, and send it by mail, fax, text or email as follows:

MAIL:

ATT’N: Tecumseh Bingo Class Action OR

ATT’N: Windsor Bingo Class Action
Lerners LLP
85 Dufferin Ave.  Box 2335
London, ON  N6A 4G4

FAX:

1.519.672.2044

TEXT OR EMAIL:

tecumsehbingoclassaction@lerners.ca
windsorbingoclassaction@lerners.ca

THANKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE OPTED OUT!

FAQs

  • WHAT IS A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT?

    In class action lawsuits, an individual “representative plaintiff” brings a case on behalf of a large group of people or organizations who have potentially similar claims. At the end of the class action, if it is successful, an award of money or other remedies can be ordered for the benefit of all of the persons in the group.

    It is important to understand that organizations in the group are assumed to be included in the class action until they declare a different intention. That way, the case can be decided without every single member of the group having a lawyer or being directly involved. The exception is where the person or organization opts out of the class action.

  • IS THERE A LAWYER FOR THE CLASS MEMBERS?

    When it ordered that the case could proceed as a class action the court named lawyers from Lerners LLP as plaintiff’s counsel. They have more information about the case at http://windsorbingoclassaction.ca or http://tecumsehbingoclassaction.ca

  • WHAT IS THIS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT ALL ABOUT?

    The representative plaintiff alleges that the City of Windsor, and the Town of Tecumseh, have been charging bingo or lottery licensing and administration fees that are actually an illegal and unconstitutional form of taxation. That issue has not been decided by the courts, but if the representative plaintiffs are successful, they are seeking an order that the City and the Town refund all of the fees that have been collected since October 1993 (plus interest).

    The issue of whether or not these fees were actually “taxes” is a complex and technical legal and factual issue which will have to be decided by the Court on the basis of the evidence presented by the representative plaintiffs and by the City and Town. The legal theory of the plaintiff is explained at http://windsorbingoclassaction.ca or http://tecumsehbingoclassaction.ca

  • WHAT IS BEING CLAIMED AGAINST THE CITY OF WINDSOR AND THE TOWN OF TECUMSEH?

    Simply put, the class action claims that the City and the Town’s lottery licensing and administration fees were higher than the overall amount it cost the City and Town to conduct regulation of charitable gaming activities. The plaintiffs allege that because of this, these fees are actually unconstitutional taxes, and they are asking the court to order the City and Town to refund them all going back to October 1993 (plus interest).

    The issue of whether or not these fees were actually “taxes” is a complex and technical legal and factual issue which will have to be decided by the Court on the basis of the evidence presented by the representative plaintiffs and by the City and Town.

  • WHY DO THE CLAIMS GO BACK SO FAR IN TIME?

    The court has said that the plaintiffs are allowed to make claims back to 1993, but will allow the City and the Town to present defences based on the normal limitation period and other legal defences arising from the passage of time. There may have to be hearings for each class member to decide if they can make claims going this far back.

    The issue of whether or not these fees were actually “taxes” is a complex and technical legal and factual issue which will have to be decided by the Court on the basis of the evidence presented by the representative plaintiffs and by the City and Town.

  • WHO IS THE PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT IN THIS CASE?

    There are actually two cases and a number of “representative plaintiffs” who have agreed to bring forward the lawsuit on behalf of all charitable groups that have conducted bingo or similar lottery events in Windsor and Tecumseh since October 1993.

    However, if your group is one of those bingo licensees that has conducted these events, then your group is a “class member”. This means that the case is being brought on your behalf, whether you want to be involved or not, unless you “opt out”.

    The representative plaintiff in the case against the City of Windsor is the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of Essex County, and the defendant is the City itself.

    The representative plaintiffs in the case against the Town of Tecumseh are the Belle River Minor District Hockey Association, and Essex County Dancers Inc. The Defendant is the Town itself.

  • WHY DOES THIS CLASS ACTION SUIT MATTER TO ME AS A CONCERNED CITIZEN?

    Citizens should be aware that the possible cost of the lawsuit to the City of Windsor (if it succeeds) could exceed $70 million once interest is factored in. That does not include the cost of defending the lawsuit, which is also significant.

    Similarly, the possible cost to the Town of Tecumseh could reach $7 million or more once interest is considered, if it succeeds, and not counting the cost of defending the case.

    Unlike many lawsuits against a municipality, there is no insurance available to cover these claims. If these claims succeed, the City and Town will need to look to the municipal tax base to pay what is owed – whether through property tax increases, reduced expenditure on services and capital projects, or through the sale of public assets.

    To put it in perspective, $70 million is more than 18% of the total approved 2015 Operating Budget for Windsor, and $7 million is more than 33% of the total 2015 municipal property tax levy in Tecumseh’s case. The impact of losses of this magnitude in either case should be matters of serious concern for community members.

  • WHY DOES THIS CLASS ACTION SUIT MATTER TO MY ORGANIZATION?

    If your organization is assumed to be part of the class because it has operated bingo or lottery events licensed by Windsor or Tecumseh, it will be a part of the lawsuit unless you opt out. The large dollar amounts that may have to be paid by Windsor and Tecumseh, and funded by their taxpayers, are calculated based on how many organizations like yours stay in the class action because they have not opted out.

    If your organization remains in the lawsuit and it is successful, then after the case is over you may have an entitlement to be repaid some or all of the lottery licensing and administration fees incurred since October, 1993, as well as interest. These amounts would be subject to payment of the contingency fee charged by the lawyers for the class and approved by the Court.

    It is only by opting out of the lawsuit that your organization can be removed from the case.

  • WHY SHOULD ORGANIZATIONS OPT OUT?

    The choice to remain in the lawsuit should be carefully considered in light of each organization’s goals, mandate and role in the community. The legal issues are reviewed by the class action lawyers acting for the Class at http://windsorbingoclassaction.ca or http://tecumsehbingoclassaction.ca

    Charities and other groups that have operated bingo or other licensed lottery events in Windsor and Tecumseh have historically generated considerable revenue for their organizations and its objects. The revenues earned by charitable groups far exceed the corresponding licensing revenues generated by the municipalities.

    As participants in the broader community, private charitable groups share many of the same goals and responsibilities as public bodies like the City of Windsor and Town of Tecumseh. With that in mind, the municipalities have taken many steps over the years to foster a strong environment for charitable bingo and lottery events, despite many competitive challenges. These steps at various times have included fee reductions and waivers, advertising and promotional initiatives, and other formal and informal efforts to build and maintain this fund-raising tool for our charitable communities.

    Opting out of the lawsuit is a way to contribute to and maintain a strong, economically healthy municipality, fostering the public services and responsibilities that the municipalities discharge. Windsor and Tecumseh are required to maintain their share of the social safety net, our infrastructure, roads and parks, and other public responsibilities. Charities should consider opting out a way to support these public objectives, which are harmonious with their own important, private goals.

 

  • WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF MY ORGANIZATION DOESN’T OPT OUT?

    If you remain in the lawsuit and it is successful, then after the case is over you may have an entitlement to be repaid some or all of the lottery licensing and administration fees incurred since October, 1993, as well as interest. These amounts would be subject to payment of the contingency fee charged by the lawyers for the class and approved by the Court. Any amount would be paid by the City of Windsor or Town of Tecumseh, depending on which municipality your organization paid licensing fees to.

    It is generally only by opting out of the lawsuit that your organization can be removed from the case. If you do not opt out by May 15th, 2016, you will remain in the lawsuit until the end. In certain circumstances, the Court may have discretion to permit you to opt out later, but this is highly exceptional.

  • HOW DO I OPT OUT

    You must ensure that you have the authority of your club, charity or organization to opt out. If you are not sure, please consult with your board of directors, executive director or other members of your group to make sure the decision to opt out is properly authorized.

    Once your organization has decided to opt out, doing so is simple.

    Or, if you prefer, you can print and fill out the attached form, and send it by mail, fax, text or email as follows:

    MAIL:
    ATT’N: Tecumseh Bingo Class Action OR

    ATT’N: Windsor Bingo Class Action
    Lerners LLP
    85 Dufferin Ave. Box 2335
    London, ON N6A 4G4
    FAX:
    1.519.672.2044

    TEXT OR EMAIL:
    tecumsehbingoclassaction@lerners.ca
    windsorbingoclassaction@lerners.ca

  • WHY DO CHARITIES NEED TO OPT OUT BY MAY 15, 2016 DATE?

    Under Ontario law, a class action lawsuit includes every member of a certified class unless they opt out within the “opt out period” set by the Court. In this case, the Court decided that the opt out period would last for 120 days, commencing on January 16th, 2016.

  • HOW DO YOU KNOW THE CLASS ACTION COULD COST $70 MILLION DOLLARS?

    The exact amount that the class action could cost could be more or less than this depending on the evidence and legal findings the Court makes about the legality of the licensing fees, and an in-depth accounting review will be necessary as part of the court process. The amount would also be affected by the number of organizations that choose to opt out.

    The estimates of $70 million (in Windsor’s case) and $7 million (in Tecumseh’s case) are based on a review of the City’s and the Town’s respective records of the historical revenues recorded as a result of lottery licensing and administration since October 1993. These recorded revenues have then had interest added to them running up to the end of 2015. This interest is generally paid after a lawsuit as a result of the Courts of Justice Act.

    While these figures are estimates, there is no doubt that the dollar amounts at risk could have a very serious, long-term impact on the financial well-being of the two municipalities.

  • WHO PAYS THE $70 MILLION DOLLARS IF THIS CLASS ACTION SUIT PROCEEDS SUCCEEDS?

    If the class action succeeds and damages are awarded, they will have to be paid by the City and the Town respectively. The funds to pay for these amounts will ultimately have to come from the tax base through various means. Options would include a property tax increase, reduction in services or capital expenditures, incurring debt, and the other ordinary means by which municipalities are funded.

    Because there is no insurance available for this claim, the taxpaying public in the two municipalities is ultimately responsible to fund any damages award.

  • WHY DOESN’T INSURANCE COVER THIS $70 MILLION CHARGE?

    Most legal claims against a municipality – such as a slip and fall accident, or other personal injury incident – can be insured so that the City and Town’s exposure to these risks can be managed.

    Unfortunately, insurance is not generally available to purchase for the type of claim that is being made in the class action. There are complex legal reasons for this, which relate to the difference between suffering an “injury” and refunding a charge that a court later determines to have been improper. Regardless, neither the Town nor the City has been able to secure such insurance.

  • HOW DO I FIND OUT IF MY ORGANIZATION OR CHARITY IS ON THE PLAINTIFF LIST?

    Many organizations do not know whether they are part of this lawsuit. If your organization ever (after October 24, 1993) raised money through a licensed charitable bingo or other lottery event in Windsor or Tecumseh, it is part of the class. There is no complete list of class members. However, if you wish to see if there is already a record showing that you are part of the class please contact the lawyers for the Plaintiffs at windsorbingoclassaction@lerners.ca, or tecumsehbingoclassaction@lerners.ca. You can also call 1.800.263.5583 ext. 5294 or write to Peter Kryworuk, Lerners LLP, 85 Dufferin Ave., Box 2335, London, ON N6A 4G4.

  • IF ORGANIZATIONS DO NOT OPT OUT, AND THE MUNICIPALITIES OWE UP TO $70 MILLION, WHO PAYS?

    $70 million is a lot of money, and insurance won’t cover this. The City of Windsor and the Town of Tecumseh will have to figure out how best to deal with that. But it may mean higher taxes, reduced services, or the selling of municipality assets.

  • WHY WOULD AN ORGANIZATION OPT OUT OF SO MUCH MONEY?

    Interesting question. The money that is at stake will not come from insurance. Rather, the burden will be upon the very citizens who have supported these organizations for so long. So while the money would certainly help these organizations, it is money from the pockets of their supporters.