- What is the Lawsuit about?
- What is the background of the litigation?
- Who is included in the Settlement?
- How do I know if my sprinklers qualify under the Settlement?
- What remedies are available under the Settlement?
- What is the definition of a non-fire activation?
- How do I submit a Claim Form?
- What are the Released Claims?
- Who is Class Counsel?
- Who pays Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees and costs?
- How do I opt out of the Settlement?
- How do I object to the Settlement?
- When and where is the Final Approval Hearing?
- How do I get more information?
- If I experienced a non-fire activation before June 6, 2020, can I still submit an Activation Claim?
- What is the Effective Date?
What is the Lawsuit about?
This website describes the proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit concerning alleged individual and class action claims against Viking asserting that the Subject Sprinklers are defective and prone to activate in the absence of a fire. The term “Lawsuit” means Jackson, et al. v. Viking Group, Inc., et al., No. 8:18-cv-02356-PJM (D. Md.). A copy of the Complaints filed in the Lawsuit will be posted on this website when they are made available by the Court.
Viking rejects the claims and allegations in the Lawsuit, including that the Subject Sprinklers are defective. Viking further denies that it violated any law, engaged in any wrongdoing, or owes any liability in this case to Plaintiffs or anyone else. Viking is settling to avoid the expense, inconvenience, risk, and disruption of further litigation. The Settlement is not an admission of any liability.
The Court has not decided that Viking violated any laws. This is not an expression of any opinion by the Court on the claims alleged in the Lawsuit.
Please note that the Settlement does not include any claims for personal injury and does not release any such claims of Settlement Class Members to the extent such claims exist.Back To Top
What is the background of the litigation?
The original Complaint in the Lawsuit was filed on July 31, 2018. During this period, the Parties have engaged in discovery, including, without limitation, the production and review of over 79,500 pages of documents.
The Parties also engaged in an alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) process, which included an in-person mediation session overseen by a retired judge. Through this extensive process, which included ADR-related discovery, and further numerous communications among counsel for the Parties over the course of many months, the Parties finally reached the proposed Settlement described and summarized on this website, and memorialized in the Settlement Agreement, which can be read here.Back To Top
Who is included in the Settlement?
The term “Settlement Class” is defined in the Settlement Agreement as:
All Persons that currently or at any time previously have owned a residential or commercial structure in the United States while it contains or contained Subject Sprinklers or while the structure sustained water damage from a non-fire activation of a Subject Sprinkler, including their spouses, joint owners, heirs, executors, administrators, mortgagees, residents, tenants, creditors, lenders, predecessors, successors, trusts and trustees, and assigns (“Occupant Persons”); as well as all Persons who have standing and are entitled to assert a Claim on behalf of any such Occupant Persons, such as, but not limited to, a builder, contractor, installer, distributor, seller, subrogated insurance carrier, or other Person who has claims for contribution, indemnity or otherwise against Viking based on claims for a non-fire activation of a Subject Sprinkler with respect to such residential or commercial structures. The Settlement Class includes all Persons who subsequently purchase or otherwise obtain an interest in a property covered by this Settlement without the need of a formal assignment by contract or court order.
Excluded from the Settlement Class are:
- Viking, its officers, directors, affiliates, legal representatives, employees, successors, and assigns, and entities in which Viking has a controlling interest;
- The judge presiding over the Lawsuit; and
- Local, municipal, state, and federal governmental entities.
The term “Subject Sprinklers” means Viking VK457 fire sprinklers, sold between January 1, 2013, and March 31, 2015.Back To Top
How do I know if my sprinklers qualify under the Settlement?
There are a number of ways to identify whether sprinklers that are or were installed in your structure are Subject Sprinklers under the Settlement Agreement.
- If you received direct notice from the Settlement Administrator with a Claimant ID Number, then that means Viking or installer records state that Subject Sprinklers were used in the construction of your structure. You should include that Claimant ID Number when completing your Claim Form to confirm your membership in the Settlement Class.
- If you did not receive direct notice with a Claimant ID Number, then you should first determine whether you have or had Viking VK457 fire sprinklers installed by reviewing any documentation concerning the sprinklers in your home; checking any spare sprinklers left behind by the installer to see if they are stamped “VK457”; or contacting your installer or the homebuilder (if known) for clarification.
For photo examples please click here.Back To Top
What remedies are available under the Settlement?
The Settlement shall provide the following remedies to Eligible Claimants who submit a valid and timely Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator:
- Activation Claims: Activation Claims are those that are based upon non-fire activations that occurred on or after June 6, 2020 through 24 Months after the Effective Date. Such Claims must be submitted to the Settlement Administrator no later than 180 days after the non-fire activation. Eligible Claimants shall receive 70% of their Reasonably Proven Property Damage. Non-fire Activations that occurred before June 6, 2020 are not eligible for payment in this Settlement.
- Replacement Claims: Replacement Claims are those in which Eligible Claimants choose to have their Subject Sprinklers replaced with a Viking VK494 fire sprinkler or a reasonably equivalent Viking fire sprinkler of equal or greater quality (“Replacement Sprinklers”). Such Claims must be submitted to the Settlement Administrator no later than 18 months after the Effective Date. Replacement Sprinklers will be installed by contractors selected and retained by Viking at no cost to the Settlement Class Member for the associated materials and labor. Settlement Class Members who paid to replace Subject Sprinklers prior to the Notice Date can file a Replacement Claim for unreimbursed out of pocket costs up to a maximum amount of $35.00 per Subject Sprinkler replaced, inclusive of costs of materials and labor.
What is the definition of a non-fire activation?
The term “non-fire activation” means an activation of a Subject Sprinkler in the absence of fire. Non-fire activations that are the sole result of physical damage to the Subject Sprinkler will not be eligible for an Activation Claim.
If a Claimant wishes to appeal the Settlement Administrator’s rejection of a Claim on the basis of whether the Claim presents a non-fire activation, then the appeal must be submitted to the Special Master within ten (10) calendar days of the rejection according to the procedures specified in the Settlement Agreement. The decision of the Special Master will be final. If a Claimant wishes to appeal the Settlement Administrator’s rejection of a Claim on any other ground, then the appeal must be submitted to the Settlement Administrator for binding resolution consistent with the procedures set forth in the Settlement Agreement. Additional information about the appeal mechanisms and process can be found in the Settlement Agreement.Back To Top
How do I submit a Claim Form?
To be eligible to receive any of the remedies described in FAQ 5, you must complete and submit a valid and timely Claim Form. Your Claim Form and supporting documentation may be submitted via the following methods:
- Online: Claim Forms can be submitted electronically via this website. You will be able to file for Replacement and Activation Claims. To get started, click here; or
- Email: Claim Forms can be submitted to the Settlement Administrator using the email address info@VK457SprinklerSettlement.com; or
- U.S. Mail: Claim Forms can be submitted to the Settlement Administrator using the address: Viking VK457 Sprinkler Class Action Settlement, Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 3127, Portland, OR 97208-3127.
If you need a copy of the paper Claim Form, you may download one here.
The deadline for submitting a Replacement Claim is 18 months after the Effective Date, and the deadline for submitting an Activation Claim is 24 months after the Effective Date. However, it is recommended you submit your Claim Form as soon as possible.
Please check this website any updates regarding Claim Form deadline dates.Back To Top
What are the Released Claims?
Per the Settlement Agreement, the Released Claims are as follows:
Release: Upon the Effective Date and subject to the limited exclusions set forth below, all Settlement Class Members, on behalf of themselves and their agents, heirs, executors and administrators, successors, assigns, insurers, attorneys, representatives, and any and all persons who seek to claim through or in the name or right of any of them (but excluding any Person who timely opted out of the Settlement with regard to the specific structures opted out) (the “Releasing Parties”), release and forever discharge (as by an instrument under seal without further act by any person, and upon good and sufficient consideration), Viking, its administrators, insurers, reinsurers, agents, firms, parent companies/corporations, sister companies/corporations, subsidiaries and affiliates, and any sales agents and distributors, wholesalers, retailers, installers, home builders, contractors, developers, engineers, architects, and any other product or service provider or any other party in the chain of distribution who distributed, specified, recommended, sold, and/or installed the Subject Sprinklers; and all of the foregoing Persons’ respective predecessors, successors, assigns and present and former officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents, attorneys, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”), from each and every claim of liability, on any legal or equitable ground whatsoever, including relief under federal law or the laws of any state, regarding or related to the Subject Sprinklers, including without limitation all past, present, or future claims, damages, or liability on any legal or equitable ground whatsoever, and regardless of whether such claims might have been or might be brought directly, or through subrogation or assignment or otherwise, on account of or related to the Subject Sprinklers, which were alleged or could have been alleged in the Complaints filed in the Lawsuit. The releases provided for herein are as a result of membership as a Settlement Class Member, the Court’s approval process herein, and occurrence of the Effective Date, and are not conditional on receipt of replacement sprinklers or any payment or other remedy by any particular member of the Settlement Class. This Settlement Agreement and the releases provided for herein shall not and are not intended to release the claims of the Settlement Class Members against the suppliers of raw materials, components, or ingredients used in the manufacture of the Subject Sprinklers, which the Settlement Class Members hereby fully and forever assign, transfer, and convey to Viking. For purposes of any claims by Viking against the suppliers of raw materials, components, or ingredients used in the manufacture of the Subject Sprinklers, should such supplier seek to join any Settlement Class Member in such a claim, Viking shall defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Settlement Class Member from any and all claims of any such supplier against the Settlement Class Member.
Exclusions from Release: All personal injury claims are expressly excluded from the Release. Moreover, claims for damages associated with non-fire activations of a Subject Sprinkler that occurred on or before the Objection and Opt-Out Date are not eligible for an Activation Claim and are excluded from the Release.Back To Top
Who is Class Counsel?
In the Preliminary Approval Order, the Court appointed Sauder Schelkopf LLC (www.sauderschelkopf.com) and Kramon and Graham PA (www.kramonandgraham.com) as Class Counsel to represent Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class Members. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you wish to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense. The contact information for Class Counsel is set forth below:
Joseph G. Sauder
Joseph B. Kennedy
Sauder Schelkopf LLC
555 Lancaser Ave.
Berwyn, PA 19312
James P. Ulwick
Kramon & Graham PA
One South St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Back To Top
Who pays Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees and costs?
Within the time period established by the Court and no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the Objection and Opt-Out Deadline, Class Counsel will file a Motion for Approval of Attorneys’ Fees, Cost and Service Awards to be paid by Viking, which shall be added to this website. Class Counsel in the Lawsuit shall apply for the following: (a) attorneys’ fees and costs not to exceed $2,950,000 and (b) service awards of $3,000 for Gayl Jackson (which shall also represent a per-household limitation) and a service award of $1,000 for Michelle Ebner and for Denise Turner (which shall also represent a per-household limitation), in recognition of their time, costs and effort in the Lawsuit in, for example and as applicable, producing documents and information to Class Counsel, among many other representative duties and services performed.Back To Top
How do I opt out of the Settlement?
Settlement Class Members may submit a Request for Exclusion from (i.e., “opt out” of) the Settlement to preserve their own individual rights to sue or continue to sue Viking with respect to the Subject Sprinklers. A member of the Settlement Class who submits a Request for Exclusion cannot object to the Settlement and is not eligible to receive any benefits under the Settlement.
To validly request exclusion from the Settlement Class, a Member of the Settlement Class must submit a written request to opt out to the Settlement Administrator so that it is postmarked by June 5, 2020 stating “I wish to exclude myself from the Settlement Class in the Viking Lawsuit Class Action Settlement” (or substantially similar clear and unambiguous language).
The written request shall also contain the Settlement Class member’s printed name, address, telephone number, email address, and date of birth. The Request for Exclusion must contain the actual written signature of the Settlement Class Member seeking to exclude himself or herself from the Settlement Class. Requests for Exclusion cannot be made on a group or class basis, except that joint owners of the same residence or structure may opt out by using the same form so long as it is individually signed by each joint owner.
All Requests for Exclusion must be sent to the Settlement Administrator at the following address:
Class Action Opt-Outs
Attn: Viking VK457 Sprinkler Class Action Settlement
P.O. Box 3127
Portland, OR 97208-3127
Requests for Exclusion cannot be filed via phone, email, or on this website.
Those Persons falling within the definition of the Settlement Class as “Persons who have standing and are entitled to assert a Claim on behalf of any such Occupant Persons” need not file a separate Request for Exclusion for each residential and/or commercial structure for which they meet this definition so long as they identify each such structure for which they are opting out in their Request for Exclusion; provided, however, that any such Persons cannot opt out for purposes of some structures but remain in the Settlement Class for others.
Any Settlement Class Member who does not submit a valid and timely written Request for Exclusion shall be bound by all subsequent proceedings, orders, and judgments in this Lawsuit, including, but not limited to, the Release, the Final Approval Order, and the Final Judgment, even if such Settlement Class Member has litigation pending, or subsequently initiates litigation, against Viking or any Released Party relating to a Released Claim.
If you have questions please call: 1-855-951-0810.Back To Top
How do I object to the Settlement?
Any Settlement Class Member who does not submit a written Request for Exclusion may present a written objection to the Settlement explaining why he or she believes that the Settlement Agreement should not be finally approved by the Court. A Settlement Class Member who wishes to submit an objection must do so in writing to the Settlement Administrator so that it is postmarked by June 5, 2020, including a detailed written statement of the objection(s) and the aspect(s) of the Settlement being challenged, as well as the specific reasons, if any, for each such objection, including any evidence and legal authority that the Settlement Class Member wishes to bring to the Court’s attention. All written Objections must be sent to the Settlement Administrator at the following address:
Class Action Objections
Attn: Viking VK457 Sprinkler Class Action Settlement
P.O. Box 3127
Portland, OR 97208-3127
The written statement shall contain (a) the Settlement Class Member’s printed name, address, telephone number, email address (if any), and date of birth; (b) evidence showing that the objector is a Settlement Class Member, including the address of the residence or structure that contains or contained a Subject Sprinkler and proof that the residence or structure contains or contained a Subject Sprinkler (photographs, contemporaneous installation records, etc.); (c) any other supporting papers, materials, or briefs that the Settlement Class Member wishes the Court to consider when reviewing the objection; (d) the actual written signature of the Settlement Class Member making the objection; and (e) a statement whether the objecting Settlement Class Member and/or his or her counsel intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing.
A Settlement Class Member may object on his or her own behalf or through an attorney; however, even if represented, the Settlement Class Member must individually sign the objection and all attorneys who are involved in any way asserting objections on behalf of the Settlement Class Member must be listed on the objection papers. Counsel for the Parties may take the deposition of any objector prior to the Final Approval Hearing in a location convenient for the objector.
If a Settlement Class Member or counsel for the Settlement Class Member who submits an objection to this Settlement has objected to a class action settlement on any prior occasion, the objection shall also disclose all cases in which they have filed an objection by caption, court, and case number, and for each case, the disposition of the objection.
Any objector who files and serves a timely written objection as described above may appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person at their own expense or through personal counsel hired at the objector’s expense, to object to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of any aspect of the Settlement on the basis set forth in his or her objection. As noted above, objectors or their attorneys who intend to make an appearance at the Final Approval Hearing must state their intention to appear in the objection delivered to the Settlement Administrator.
If you have questions please call: 1-855-951-0810.Back To Top
When and where is the Final Approval Hearing?
The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing on July 21, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland at 6500 Cherrywood Lane, Suite 475A, Greenbelt, MD 20770, before Judge Peter J. Messitte, to consider whether the Settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable, and whether it should be finally approved. If there are objections, the Court will consider them at that time. The Court will also consider at this time Class Counsel’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Costs and Service Awards.
Please note that Class Counsel is working on your behalf and will answer any questions that the Court may have about the Settlement. You are welcome to attend the Final Approval Hearing but your appearance is not necessary to receive any benefits available under the Settlement.
Important: The date and time of the Final Approval Hearing is subject to modification by the Court so please check here for updates.Back To Top
How do I get more information?
This website only summarizes the Settlement. For more information, please review the full Settlement Agreement and Exhibits (including copies of the proposed Notice and the Claim Form), and other court documents located here.
If you need more information or have any questions, you may contact the Settlement Administrator at the information below:
Viking VK457 Sprinkler Class Action Settlement
P.O. Box 3127
Portland, OR 97208-3127
PLEASE DO NOT WRITE OR CALL THE COURT, THE CLERK OF THE COURT, VIKING, OR COUNSEL FOR VIKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT OR THIS LAWSUIT.Back To Top
If I experienced a non-fire activation before June 6, 2020, can I still submit an Activation Claim?
No, only non-fire activations that occur on or after June 6, 2020 are eligible for payment under the Settlement through an Activation Claim. Any non-fire activations that occur on or before June 5, 2020, are not part of this Settlement and are not subject to the Release in Section F.1 of the Settlement Agreement. You still may be eligible for a Replacement Claim, however.
If you would like to be contacted by a representative of Viking concerning your pre-June 6, 2020, non-fire activation, please provide your name, contact info, and a brief description of your pre-June 6, 2020, non-fire activation (date, address, etc.) to the Settlement Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org.Back To Top
What is the Effective Date?
The term “Effective Date” means: (a) the expiration date of the time for filing notice of any appeal from the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment if no appeal is filed; or (b) if an appeal is filed, the latest of (i) the date of final affirmance of that Final Approval Order and Final Judgment, (ii) the expiration of the time for a petition for writ of certiorari to review the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment if affirmed, the denial of certiorari, or, if certiorari is granted, the date of final affirmance of the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment following review pursuant to that grant; or (iii) the date of final dismissal of any appeal from the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment or the final dismissal of any proceeding on certiorari to review the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment that has the effect of confirming the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment. For avoidance of doubt, the Effective Date shall not have been reached until the Court enters a Final Approval Order and Final Judgment and there has been the successful exhaustion of all appeal periods without appeal or resolution of any appeals or certiorari proceedings in a manner upholding the Final Approval Order and Final Judgment.
The Effective Date will be determined in August 2020.Back To Top