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Verizon’s $100 million settlement checks may be delayed: Here’s why

(NEXSTAR) – The deadline to claim a piece of the $100 million fund Verizon agreed to pay out to customers is coming up in April, but you might not see a piece of that payment until much later.

Reuters reports a group of lawyers representing Verizon customers has filed a motion to intervene in the class action lawsuit, hoping to force the cellular company into mass arbitration instead.

This is just one example of the many types of legal maneuvers and disputes we might see when a big company with deep pockets is involved in a large class action lawsuit, explained Rick Marcus, a professor at UC Law.

“One of the things that can happen is the lawyers who weren’t chosen to lead the parade could come in and say those other lawyers aren’t doing a good job,” Marcus said, as an example. Sometimes we also see “bad faith objectors,” who essentially try and hold up legal proceedings hoping for a payoff. You may also see firms trying to “improve the deal” and make the award sum larger – in exchange for a larger cut of attorneys’ fees.

All these processes, for better or for worse, can stretch out and delay the class action process, Marcus said.

The Verizon class action lawsuit stems from claims customers were unfairly hit with an administrative charge as part of a “deceptive scheme.” Verizon had denied any wrongdoing, but has agreed to pay affected users up to $100 each. (See if you qualify here.)

The settlement has received preliminary approval, but it still needs the final OK from a judge. A hearing is scheduled for March 22 in New Jersey, in which a judge will decide whether to approve the settlement, the size of attorneys’ fees, and other details of the settlement.

After the hearing, there’s a window in which objectors can file appeals.

Only after settlement is granted final approval and any appeals are resolved will the payments be issued.

There’s no telling how long that whole process will take. For example, a judge in San Francisco gave final approval to the record-breaking $725 million Facebook settlement last October, but Facebook users still haven’t seen any payments come through. Two objectors filed appeals, and those are still being considered.

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