Ziccarello v Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.) Corp.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not find an answer to your question below, please call 1-844-702-2787.

Questions

Answers

1. Why is there a website?

This website is to let you know about a Settlement in a class action lawsuit that may affect your rights. This notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.  This notice also explains how to participate in, or how you could have excluded yourself from, the Settlement.

The lawsuit was called Ziccarello v. Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.) Corp., et al., No. 19-CV-16623. United States Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey oversaw the case and approved the Settlement.

The people who sued are called the “Plaintiffs.” Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.) Corporation, Sanyo North America Corporation, and Panasonic Corporation of North America, the companies who were sued, are called the “Defendants.”

Information about the Settlement is summarized in this notice.  More detail is provided in the Settlement Agreement, which is available in the Documents section of this website.

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2. What is this lawsuit about?

This lawsuit claimed that Sanyo-brand solar panels in the HIP-xxxBA3 model series and similarly designed model series (including the HIP-xxxBA2 and HIP-xxxBA5 model series) “delaminate” over time, meaning that the laminated parts of the solar panel separate from each other.  The plaintiff claimed that delamination could decrease the amount of power generated from a panel in some situations.

The Plaintiff also claimed that the Defendants did not correctly apply a limited power warranty for these “delaminated” solar panels, which is supposed to provide a refund, repair, or replace solar panels if their power output falls below specific levels in certain conditions (“Power Warranty”).  The Plaintiff also claimed that the Defendants did not take electrical measurements of the power output of Sanyo-brand solar panels after Defendants received these Power Warranty claims.

Defendants denied these claims.  The Court did not decide who is right. The Court did not find any of the Defendants liable for any of Plaintiff’s claims.

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3. What Solar Panels are included in the Settlement?

The solar panels included in the Settlement are Sanyo-brand solar panels in the HIP-xxxBA2, HIP-xxxBA3, and HIP-xxxBA5 model series that were originally sold for residential use in the United States (“Sanyo Settlement Panels”).

Examples of solar panels in the HIP-xxxBA2 model series include model numbers HIP-J54BA2 and HIP-190BA2.  Examples of solar panels in the HIP-xxxBA3 model series include model numbers HIP-180BA3, HIP-186BA3, HIP-190BA3, HIP-195BA3, HIP-200BA3, and HIP-205BA3.  Examples of solar panels in the HIP-xxxBA5 model series include model numbers HIP-180BA5, HIP-186BA5, HIP-190BA5, HIP-195BA5, HIP-200BA5, and HIP-205BA5. 

The Sanyo Settlement Panels were manufactured and marketed by Sanyo Energy from approximately 2001 to 2010.

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4. Why was this a class action?

In a class action, one or more people or businesses called “class representatives” sue on behalf of a group of others with similar claims (called a “class”).  All of these people together are “class members.”  In this case, the Class Representative was Richard Ziccarello.

The Court decided that the lawsuit should proceed as a class action, meaning everyone’s claims could be combined into a single court proceeding, which was more efficient than having many separate lawsuits about similar claims.  In a class action, one Court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those individuals who exclude themselves from the class.

Court granted approval of the settlement on behalf of all Settlement Class Members, meaning that the Settlement is now binding on all Settlement Class Members.  For more information about who is a Settlement Class Member, see Question 6.

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5. Why is there a settlement?

The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or Defendants.  Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement.  By agreeing to the Settlement, they avoided the costs and uncertainty of a trial, and Settlement Class Members received the benefits described in this notice.  The proposed Settlement does not mean that any law was broken or that the Defendants did anything wrong.  The parties believe that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and provides substantial benefits to the Settlement Class.


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6. How do I know if I'm included?

If you received mailed notice of the Settlement, then you are believed to be a Settlement Class Member.  But even if you did not receive a notice by mail, you may be a Settlement Class Member.

You are included in the Settlement Class if you are one of the following:

  1. Original Purchaser: A person or entity in the United States who purchased and installed Sanyo Settlement Panels for residential use (see Question 3).

  2. Subsequent Title Holder: A person who purchased a private residence, building, or ground mounted Sanyo solar system in the United States on which Sanyo Settlement Panels were originally installed for residential use.

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7. Are there exceptions to being included?

The Settlement does not include:

  • Defendants, any entity in which any Defendant has a controlling interest, and Defendants’ legal representatives, heirs, and successors;
  • Settlement Class Counsel and any member of Settlement Class Counsel’s immediate family; and
  • Any judge to whom any aspect of this case is assigned and any member of that judge’s immediate family.

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8. What if I'm still not sure if I'm included?

If you are not sure whether you are a Settlement Class Member after carefully reading this website, please call the toll free number, 1-844-702-2787, for more information.  You can also read the Settlement Agreement under the Documents section of this website, which has more information about the Settlement.

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9. What does the Settlement Provide?

Settlement Class Members with qualifying solar panels may receive a replacement panel or cash payment for each qualifying panel after submitting a claim form and supporting documents.

This procedure to submit and resolve settlement claims will replace the current procedure to submit and resolve claims regarding “delamination” under the 20-year Sanyo limited power output warranty.

The settlement also provides updated instructions for submitting future warranty claims about Sanyo Settlement Panels that are unrelated to qualifying damage.  The Settlement Agreement, available under the Documents section of this website, has more information.

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10. What can I get from the Settlement?

If you are a Settlement Class Member and the Claims Administrator decides that you meet the requirements described in Question 14, you may get one of the following benefits.  Defendants will choose which benefit you receive.

  1. Replacement Panel: You may be sent a new or refurbished solar panel to replace each qualifying Sanyo Settlement Panel.  A replacement panel provided as part of this Settlement may be different in size, color, shape, model number, manufacturer, and/or power level from your qualifying Sanyo Settlement Panel, and from other replacement panels that Defendants provide if you have more than one qualifying panel.  However, all replacement panels will generate the level of power output guaranteed under the applicable Sanyo 20-year limited power output warranty.

  2. Payment: You may be sent a payment equal to the original purchase price of your qualifying Sanyo Settlement Panel, after reducing for depreciation.  Depreciation will take into consideration the original purchase price, the time that has elapsed since purchase, and the amount of time left in your Power Warranty period of twenty (20) years.

For example, a payment for a qualifying panel purchased 10 years ago at a purchase price of $700, would be $350, or half the original purchase price.

For the purposes of this calculation, a partial year of less than six months is not counted for depreciation purposes; and a partial year of 6 months or more is counted as a full year for depreciation purposes.  For example, if a qualifying panel was purchased nine years and five months before the claim was submitted, the payment would be reduced for nine years.  However, if a qualifying panel was purchased nine years and six months before the claim was submitted, the payment would be reduced for 10 years.

If you cannot provide the original purchase price of your qualifying panel, then your payment will be the based on the value of a panel with an original purchase price of $700.

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11. If I get the replacement panel is my warranty or the claims period for delamination extended?

No. If your Sanyo Settlement Panel is replaced, the warranty and claims period that applied to the original Sanyo Settlement Panel will not change.  This means that even if you receive a replacement solar panel, no new warranty coverage period will apply, and your warranty period will not be extended.  Coverage for “delamination”-related issues will only be available through the Settlement claim process.  Claims can only be submitted until the earlier of: 20 years from the date the original, replaced Sanyo Settlement Panel was purchased or December 31, 2029.

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12. Does the Settlement cover expenses related to collecting evidence for my claim or installing the replacement panels?

No. The Settlement does not cover any expenses related to: (a) collecting evidence to show that your Sanyo Settlement Panels have Qualifying Damage or (b) replacement panel removal, transportation, reinstallation, or related fees. 

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13. Can I get both replacement panel and a payment?

No. You may only get one benefit.  The Defendants will choose which benefit you receive.

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14. Who can file a claim for benefits?

If you are a Settlement Class Member, you may be able to receive a replacement panel or payment, described in Question 10, as long as you meet all of the following requirements:

  1. You own one or more Sanyo Settlement Panels for which the 20-year Power Warranty has not expired.  This means that it has been less than 20 years since the date your Sanyo Settlement Panels were originally purchased.  If you are a Subsequent Title Holder, less than 20 years must have elapsed since the Sanyo Solar Panels were purchased by their original owner; 

  2. One or more of your Sanyo Settlement Panels shows clear visible evidence of “Qualifying Damage” (see Question 16);

  3. You fill out and submit a Claim Form, along with photographs of your Sanyo Settlement Panels with Qualifying Damage and proof that you own the Sanyo Settlement Panels, before the deadline (see Question 19). The deadline is the earlier of: 20 years of the date your panels were originally purchased or December 31, 2029;

  4. You or anyone else (including the previous owners) have not already received compensation or another warranty or settlement remedy from the Defendants for the Sanyo Settlement Panels in your claim;

  5. None of the warranty exclusions that apply to the 20-year Power Warranty apply to the Sanyo Settlement Panels in your claim. A copy of the Sanyo 20-year Power Warranty which includes a full list of these exclusions can be found in the Documents section of this website.  For example, if a panel was broken by a falling rock or other debris before you submitted your claim, that panel would be excluded; and

  6. You provide additional photographs, when requested, of the label (including the manufacturer, model number, and serial number) and full backside of each panel, to confirm that the panel is a Sanyo Settlement Panel.

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15. What if I cannot provide the original purchase date for my Sanyo Settlement Panels?

If you do not know the actual original purchase date for your Sanyo Settlement Panels, the original purchase date will be treated as exactly 3 months after the date the panels were manufactured.  You can find the manufacturing date of your Sanyo Settlement Panels on the label on the back of each panel.  This means that the 20-year Power Warranty Period will be treated as expiring exactly 20 years and 3 months after the date on the label, unless you know the actual original purchase date.

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16. What is Qualifying damage?

You will only be able to get a replacement panel or payment if the Claims Administrator can tell from looking at the photos you send in that a Sanyo Settlement Panel has:

  • One or more contiguous (or adjacent) sections of circular delamination,
  • Each section has a diameter of 25 millimeters or greater, and
  • It was not caused by external damage.

If your Sanyo Settlement Panel matches all of these requirements, it has “Qualifying Damage.”

Qualifying Damage does not include:

  • Circular delamination with a diameter less than 25 millimeters
  • Linear delamination
  • Dot delamination, or
  • Any delamination caused by external damage.

Some examples of panels with and without Qualifying Damage can be found in the Documents section of this website.

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17. When will I get my replacement panel or payment?

After you submit a claim, the Claims Administrator will decide whether you qualify to get a payment or a replacement panel as soon as possible.  How long this decision takes will depend on a number of things, such as how many other people sent in claims before you and how many panels are part of your claim.  Once the Claims Administrator makes a decision, you and the Defendants will also be allowed to object to the Claims Administrator’s decision if you believe it was wrong.  If your panels are found to qualify after the Claims Administrator deals with any objections, you will receive a payment or replacement panel.  Please be patient.

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18. What did I give up through the Settlement?

As part of the Settlement, class members gave up their right to sue any of the Defendants on their own for the claims that this Settlement resolves.  If you are a Settlement Class Member, you are bound by the Settlement and by all Court proceedings, orders, and judgments in this lawsuit.

The Settlement Agreement is available under the Documents section of this website and describes the released claims that you gave up by remaining in the Settlement.   

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19. How do I file a claim for a replacement panel or payment?

To file a claim for a remedy under the Settlement, you will need to submit a completed Claim Form, photographs, and proof of ownership of your Sanyo Settlement Panels to get either a replacement panel or payment.

The Claim Form can be downloaded from the Documents section of this website.  Please read the instructions carefully when you fill out the Claim Form.  The Claim Form explains what photographs and proof of ownership need to be submitted.  You can also find out more information about how to file a claim by calling toll-free, 1-844-702-2787.

Your claim, including the Claim Form, photographs, and proof of ownership, must be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to the following address and postmarked by the deadline described below:

Ziccarello v Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.) Corp. Claims
Class Litigation Administration Support Services
P.O Box 1272
Lancaster, California 93584

You must submit your Claim Form, photographs, and proof of ownership by the earlier of: 20 years of the original purchase date of your Sanyo Settlement Panels or December 31, 2029.  If this period has already expired, you are not eligible to submit a claim.

Filling out a claim under the Settlement replaces the previous procedure for submitting warranty claims about “delamination” submitted under the Sanyo 20-year Power Warranty.  “Delamination”-related claims for Sanyo Settlement Panels should not be sent to directly to the Defendants; they should be submitted using the Settlement claim process described above.

Submitting a Claim Form does not automatically mean that you will receive a replacement panel or payment.  If you submit a Claim Form, your claim will be evaluated by an independent Claims Administrator.  The Claims Administrator will look at the information and photographs that you submit, and decide if any of your panels qualify for a remedy.

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20. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

Yes.  The Court appointed Birka-White Law Offices, 178 E. Prospect Ave, Danville, CA 94526, and Levin Sedran & Berman LLP, 510 Walnut Street, Ste. 500, Philadelphia, PA 19106, to represent you and the other Settlement Class Members in this lawsuit as “Settlement Class Counsel.”  You will not be charged for contacting these lawyers.

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21. How are the lawyers paid?

As part of this Settlement, the parties negotiated a payment of $1.745 million to Settlement Class Counsel for attorney’s fees and expenses, as well as a $5,000 service payment to the Class Representative.  These payments were made by Defendants.  You do not have to pay anything to Settlement Class Counsel.  The costs to administer the Settlement, including paying the Claims Administrator, will also be paid by Defendants.

Settlement Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs and a Class Representative service award is available to view on the Documents section of this website.  The Court granted Settlement Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of expenses, and a Class Representative service award on July 8.  A copy of that order is available in the Documents section of this website.

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22. Can I tell the Court if I do not like the Settlement?

The deadline to object to the Settlement passed on May 28, 2021.  You may no longer object to the Settlement.

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23. Can I Exclude Myself from the Settlement?

The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement passed on May 28, 2021.  You may no longer exclude yourself from the Settlement.

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24. If I did not exclude myself, can I sue the Defendants for the same thing later?

By not excluding yourself from the Settlement, you gave up the right to sue the Defendants for the claims covered by the Settlement.  For more information about the claims that were released by the Settlement, please read the text of the Settlement, which is available on the Documents page of this website.

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25. What if I do nothing?

If you have a panel with Qualifying Damage and wish to receive a replacement or panel payment, you must complete and submit a claim by the deadline (see FAQ 19).  If you do nothing, you will not receive a Settlement remedy.

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26. Where can I get more information?

This website summarizes the Settlement and provides instructions for submitting a claim.  For the specific terms and conditions of the Settlement, please read the text of the Settlement Agreement, which is posted under the Documents section of this website.  You can also call the toll-free hotline at 1-844-702-2787.

The Settlement Agreement and other documents from this case can also be accessed on the Court docket through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system online at https://ecf.njd.uscourts.gov .

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This website is authorized by the Court, supervised by counsel and controlled by Claims Administrator approved by the Court. This is the only authorized website for this case.

For more information please call 1-844-702-2787

Documents

Please read for a full explanation of the settlement and your options and all applicable timelines.

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