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Walton v. Gaffey Class Action Settlement

This page provides information about the potential settlement in the class action against Martin Gaffey, an Iowa City landlord. The case is Walton v. Gaffey, CVCV76909, currently pending in the Johnson County District Court. The class consists of residential tenants of Martin Gaffey for the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 lease terms. You cannot join a class action, you are automatically part of the class if you were a residential tenant of Martin Gaffey for the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 lease terms. A fairness hearing is set for 1:30 pm, October 4, 2019 at the Johnson County Courthouse.

Class Action Case Proceedings

This case had summary & declaratory judgment and class certification granted, which was appealed and the case remanded. The case is pending. Here are the Gaffey Class Action district court proceedings and the Gaffey Class Action proceedings on appeal.

Class Action Settlement Notification

Here is the class action notification settlement notification as ordered by the Court:

Walton v. Gaffey, case number CVCV76909 is a class action that has been brought by the Tenants' Project on behalf of tenants in the Johnson County District Court that challenged a number of provisions in the standard lease of Martin Gaffey. The Iowa Supreme Court found that the automatic carpet cleaning provision was prohibited under Iowa Code 562A.11 and the District Court certified a class action on February 19, 2018 and appointed Joan Walton is the Class Representative and attorney Christopher Warnock as the Class Counsel. The class consists of all residential tenants of Martin Gaffey for the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-14 lease terms. There is no way to join the class action as all eligible tenants are automatically included in the class.

The Class Representative, with the advice and assistance of Class Counsel, has agreed with the Defendant to settle the case. Here is the complete proposed consent decree and the Court's preliminary settlement order. Because this is a class action, the Court must approve any settlement and ensure that it is reasonable and fair for all class members. The Court has preliminarily approved the settlement and has set a fairness hearing for 1:30 pm, October 4, 2019 at the Johnson County Courthouse to determine whether to finally approve the settlement.

Proposed Settlement

The proposed settlement provides for a Class Award of $65 per tenant for each lease term as a tenant of Martin Gaffey for 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-14. Thus if a class member was a tenant for 2012-13 and 2013-14 they would receive $130. If a class member was both a tenant and a sub-tenant for the same yearly lease term, or was a tenant under leases for two different units for the same yearly lease term, they would only receive one award of $65 (sixty five dollars). The $65 payment was derived from payments made in other class actions involving similar lease provisions.

In addition as part of the settlement Defendant will confer with the Tenants Project and remove all prohibited provisions from their leases, and for a period of three years from the Court's approval of the settlement will use a legal lease and obey the Iowa landlord tenant act.

Based on all these factors, the parties believe that the proposed settlement and class member payments are fair and reasonable. If the Court approves settlement, class members would be bound by it as far as any claims for actual or punitive damages or attorney fees for the use of prohibited lease provisions, but not for claims that must be proven on a case by case basis or any claims for wrongfully withholding security deposits other than under prohibited provisions.

Defendant has agreed to pay court costs, plus the costs of notification and of the claims process in addition to the class payments. Class counsel's fees are determined by the Court. Under the settlement agreement attorney fees will not be paid from the class payment, but Class Counsel will seek an award of attorney fees under the Landlord Tenant Act. The Landlord Tenant Act does not permit contingency fees, but requires that fees be reasonable and calculated as hourly fees. Defendant has agreed that $11,500 for Christopher Warnock as lead counsel and $500 to Rockne Cole as associate counsel are reasonable attorney fees for work done in the case.

Opting Out & Objections

Class members have the right to opt-out of the settlement. If they opt out of the settlement they are not bound by it, but will not receive the class member payment of $65 per year of tenancy. Class members can opt-out by completely filling out and sending the Opt Out form to Class Counsel at Class member must opt out within 120 days after the Court's final approval of the settlement.

Class members may object to the settlement and/or appear at the fairness hearing at 1:30 pm, October 4, 2019 at the Johnson County Courthouse. You can ask the Court to deny approval of the settlement by filing an objection. You can't ask the Court to order a larger settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no settlement payments will be sent out and the lawsuit will continue. If you are a Class Member you can object by filling out and signing the Notice of Objections and by e-mailing the signed and completed pdf Notice of Objections to Class Counsel at You can also appear at the fairness hearing by filling out and signing the Notice of Intention to Appear and e-mailing the pdf to Class Counsel at Both notices of objection and notice to appear must be received by Class Counsel twenty one days before the fairness hearing.

Claim Process

Class members can register and start the claims process by completely filling out the pdf registration form and sending by e-mail to Class Counsel at As part of the verification process class members will need to provide their full address including unit number for the unit rented on the registration form and providing a pdf scan of a government issued ID with their current address. Address information cannot be provided to tenants as this is necessary to verify their eligibility. No payments can be made unless and until the Court approves the settlement. Eligible Class Members may begin registration immediately and must have completed registration by 120 days after the Court's final approval of settlement.

PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK'S OFFICE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT OR THE CLAIM PROCESS. E-mail for further information or you may wish to consult legal counsel for advice with regard to this settlement.