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Jon DePaolis, Freelance Reporter
12:26 pm CDT October 9, 2019

The Village of Tinley Park Board of Trustees approved a settlement agreement Tuesday, Oct. 8, pertaining to a class action suit regarding the past water service billing.

The trustees voted 6-0 during a special meeting to approve the settlement agreement for Omar Jaber vs. Village of Tinley Park 15 CH 12754.

“The court has preliminarily approved the terms of the agreement,” Trustee William Brady said during the introduction of the item. “Pursuant to the agreement, the Village is agreeing to pay the amount up to $425,000 directly to the customers of [the] Tinley Park water system, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs awarded [by] the court of up to $265,000, of which $150,000 will be paid for by the Village’s risk pool at the time of suit, the cost of class administration, and will pay the class representative an incentive award of $5,000.”

Brady said each class member will receive payments based upon the number of water bills received for usage in excess of 35,000 gallons: one instance would be $10; two instances would be $15; three or more instances would be $20; and zero instances would be $3.

“Per the terms of the agreement, the Village must retain First Class as the class action claims administrator, and all necessary information for residents to make claims will be provided by First Class,” Brady added.

Brandon K. Lemley, an attorney with Querrey Harrow – a firm hired by the Village to help with the water billing lawsuit – said the Village replaced all of the faulty water meters several years ago at a cost close to $7 million.

“From our viewpoint, this is the last component of what is remaining with regard to the legal action,” Lemley said. “The court has considered this in a preliminary approval hearing and found that the terms of the settlement agreement were fair, adequate and reasonable under the circumstances. We are hoping that this can finally put the litigation to bed.”

Lemley said next steps would include the Village mailing 4-inch-by-6-inch postcard notices to all customers of the Village’s water system around Oct. 16. The customers would then have the opportunity to submit claims by Nov. 20.

The agreement is set for a final approval hearing on Dec. 4 in the Cook County Circuit Court.

“Depending on the results of that hearing, then we ultimately move forward with making final payments based on the claims submitted that would be handled by First Class, the claims administrator,” Lemley said.

Mayor Jacob Vandenberg said it has been “a long couple of years” regarding the class action suit. He thanked the attorneys at Querrey Harrow, as well as other village attorneys for their work representing the Village.

“I’m glad to see this case hopefully come to a close pretty soon,” Vandenberg said.

Village Manager David Niemeyer said a website will soon be active that will contain details for residents interested in learning more about the terms of the settlement agreement and the process for submitting claims. It will be operated by an outside firm.