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Former Live Well employees receive final approval of class action settlement

The suit, stemming from the former reverse lender’s abrupt May 2019 closure, has been approved in Delaware bankruptcy court

A cohort of former employees at now-defunct reverse mortgage lender Live Well Financial has been granted final settlement approval in a class action lawsuit brought against the company’s estate in May 2019.

Monica Williams, a former loan account manager in Live Well’s Richmond, Va. headquarters, initially filed the suit days after Live Well had halted funding for new loans and subsequently ceased operations entirely.

“After reviewing the terms of the settlement agreement, the court has determined that the legal and factual bases [outlined] in the motion establish just cause for the relief granted herein,” the order reads based on court filings reviewed by RMD.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware seeking 60 days of wages and benefits, alleging termination without cause and notice as required by law. Live Well initially announced its intent to challenge the suit a month after its filing.

Williams brought the suit on behalf of herself and other former Live Well employees who were terminated “without cause, as part of, or as the result of, mass layoffs or plant closings ordered by [Live Well] on or about May 3, 2019,” the initial court complaint said.

After dragging on for the better part of four years while an adjacent criminal case against former executive leaders was playing out in the U.S. Southern District Court of New York, the class in the Delaware suit received pending approval for a $1.1 million settlement last November.

At that time, attorneys for Williams and the class at large said the figure “provides for payment more than sixty-six (66) percent of the maximum priority [Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)] damages and eliminates any further accrual of litigation expenses in prosecuting the action against [Live Well], including trial and possible appeals.”

In a 92-minute court hearing held on Jan. 18, presiding Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein gave final approval for the settlement to Williams’ attorneys and David Carickhoff, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee overseeing the estate of Live Well Financial.

Alongside the preliminary approval, court filings indicated that the settlement would cap the payment at $13,650 per employee. This included all counsel fees and expenses, making the class consist of roughly 81 people. A class of 125 people was initially estimated when the suit was filed in 2019.

RMD reached out to attorneys for Williams but did not hear back before this article was published.

This is the latest chapter in the saga of Live Well Financial. The government indicted three former company executives over what prosecutors called a reverse mortgage bond pricing scheme, with the company’s former CFO and former portfolio manager avoiding prison time after consideration of their cooperation with authorities.

A dispute over restitution continues to play out in court between the government and counsel for the lender’s former CEO, who remains free on bond pending an appeal of a prison sentence.

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