No Settlement for H&R Block

U.S. District Court Judge Elaine Bucklo rejected the proposal to settle a class-action lawsuit brought against H&R Block’s tax-refund loan program on Wednesday, May 25, 2005. The proposed $360 million settlement covering more than 28 million customers and 55 million transactions, was the second settlement proposal blocked by Judge Bucklo, according to the Associated Press.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, because we thought it was an offer that provided true value [to the class-action lawsuit participants],” H&R Block spokesperson Linda McDougall told the Kansas City Star.

Judge Bucklo did not provide a reason for rejecting the settlement proposal. The Kansas City Star reports that the only additional information in the docket entry denying the settlement was a comment that if the parties wished “to explore further the possibility of settlement with an independent mediator, the court would refer them to a mediator familiar with the law in this circuit.”

By ruling to invalidate the settlement, Judge Bucklo returns all parties to the status they had before the settlement agreement was reached. The Chicago case and five other class action lawsuits involving the refund-anticipation loans remain active as a result of Judge Bucklo’s ruling as well. Without a settlement, the Chicago case heads to trial in October.

“Knowing how highly regulated refund anticipations are, and how careful the company is to follow those regulations, we believe that we’re very prepared to take this to court and prove our case,” McDougall told the Kansas City Star.

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