If you do not find an answer to your question below, please call 1-844-702-2787.
This website is to let you know about a proposed Settlement in a class action lawsuit that may affect your rights, including your right to file a claim, object to, or exclude yourself from the Settlement, before the Court decides whether to approve it. This website explains the lawsuits, the Settlement, and your legal rights.
Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey is overseeing the case. The case is called Ziccarello v. Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.) Corp., et al., No. 19-CV-16623.
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 website. More detail is provided in the Settlement Agreement, available in the Documents section of this website.
This lawsuit claims that Sanyo-brand solar panels in the BA3 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, and could cause power loss in some situations. The plaintiff claims that delamination could decrease the amount of power generated from a panel in some situations.
The Plaintiff also claims that the Defendants did not correctly apply a limited 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 claims 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 deny these claims. The Court has not decided who is right. The Court has not found any of the Defendants liable for any of Plaintiff’s claims.
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.
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 is Richard Ziccarello.
If the Court decides that a lawsuit should proceed as a class action, everyone’s claims can be combined into a single court proceeding, which is 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 (see FAQ 21).
The Court has not decided in favor of the Plaintiffs or Defendants. Instead, both sides have agreed to a Settlement. By agreeing to the Settlement, they avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial, and Settlement Class Members receive the benefits described on this website. 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 will provide substantial benefit to the Settlement Class.
If you received a 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:
The Settlement does not include:
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 details about the Settlement.
If the Settlement is approved and becomes final, 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 (see FAQ 10?), notice costs, administration costs, attorneys’ fees and costs.
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.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and the Claims Administrator decides that you meet the requirements described in FAQ 14, you may get one of the following benefits. Defendants will choose which benefit you receive.
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.
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.
No. You may only get one benefit. The Defendants will choose which benefit you receive.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and the Settlement is approved by the Court you may be able to receive a replacement panel or payment, described in FAQ 10, as long as you meet all of the following requirements:
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.
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:
If your Sanyo Settlement Panel matches all of these requirements, it has “Qualifying Damage.”
Some examples of panels with Qualifying Damage can be found in the Documents section of this website.
Qualifying Damage does not include:
Some examples of panels without Qualifying Damages can be found in the Documents section of this website.
The Claims Administrator will start accepting claims only after the Court grants final approval to the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved (see FAQ 27). If there are appeals, resolving them can take time.
After you submit a claim, the Claims Administrator will decide whether you qualify to get a replacement panel or payment 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 any of your panels are found to qualify after the Claims Administrator deals with any objections, you will receive a replacement panel or payment for each qualifying panel. Please be patient.
If you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you will give up your right to sue any of the Defendants on your own for the claims that this Settlement resolves. You will be bound by the Settlement and by all Court proceedings, orders, and judgments in this lawsuit. Unless you exclude yourself, all of the decisions by the Court will bind you. The Settlement Agreement is available under the Documents section of this website and describes the released claims that you give up if you remain in the Settlement.
If the Settlement is approved by the court after the Final Approval Hearing (see FAQs 28-30), you will be able to submit a claim for a replacement panel or payment. To find out whether the court granted approval and claims are being accepted, you can visit this website, or call toll-free 1-844-702-2787.
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.
Once claims are being accepted, you will be able to download a copy of the Claim Form from this website. You can also find out more information about how to file a claim by calling toll-free, 1-844-702-2787. 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. If you choose to submit your Claim Form, photographs, and proof of ownership by mail, you must mail them postmarked by the deadline (described below) to:
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 will replace the current procedure for warranty claims about “delamination” submitted under the 20-year Power Warranty.
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 the Claims Administrator. The Claims Administrator will look at the information and photographs that you submit, and decide if you should get benefits.
If you are a Settlement Class member and you want to keep your right to sue any of the Defendants about the claims in this lawsuit, then you must take steps to get out of the Settlement Class. This is called excluding yourself – or it is sometimes referred to as “opting out” of the Settlement Class. You will not be able to submit a Claim Form or receive benefits from the Settlement if you exclude yourself.
If you wish to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you must send a letter that includes the following information:
You must mail this letter, postmarked no later than May 28, 2021 to:
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue the Defendants for the claims that this Settlement resolves.
No. You will not get benefits if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.
The Court has 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. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, and/or have that lawyer appear in court for you in this lawsuit, you may hire one at your own expense.
As part of this Settlement, the parties have negotiated a payment of $1.745 million to Settlement Class Counsel for attorney’s fees and expenses. This payment will be made by Defendants. You will 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. Attorneys’ fees, like all of the terms of the Settlement, are subject to Court approval.
A motion for final approval of the settlement, including payment of attorneys’ fees, will be filed on or before June 11, 2021. This motion will be posted and available for review on this website.
You have the right to tell the Court that you do not agree with the Settlement or any or all of its terms.
You can submit a written objection to the Settlement if you do not like some or all of it. The Court will consider your views. You can ask the Court to deny approval of the Settlement by filing an objection. You cannot ask the Court to change the terms of the Settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the Settlement. If the Court denies approval, the procedures and benefits described in FAQs 9-19 will not be available to you, and the lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you must object.
If you wish to object to the Settlement, you must do so in writing. Your written objection must include the following information:
The objection must be submitted to the Court by either mailing it to the address below, or by filing it in person at any location of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and by mailing it to the other two addresses listed here:
SETTLEMENT CLASS COUNSEL
United States District Clerk
United States District Court
for the District of New Jersey
Martin Luther King Building
& U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Birka-White Law Offices
178 E. Prospect Ave
Danville, CA 94526
H. David Leslie
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
767 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10153
Your objection must be filed with the Court or postmarked on or before May 28, 2021.
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you don’t exclude yourself from the Settlement Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.
The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing to decide whether to finally approve the Settlement on July 8, 2021, either in-person at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Courtroom 4D, 50 Walnut Street, Newark, NJ 07101, or via a videoconference platform such as Zoom. The Court has not yet decided whether the hearing will be held in-person or via videoconference. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so you should check this website for current information.
At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are any objections or comments, the Court will consider them at this time. The Court may also decide whether to award attorneys’ fees and expenses. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.
No. You do not have to come to the Final Approval Hearing. Settlement Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. But you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you file an objection or comment, you do not need to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you filed your written objection on time and included the information described in FAQ 26, the Court will consider your objection. You may also pay another lawyer attend the Final Approval Hearing on your behalf, at your own expense, but it is not required.
Yes, if you choose to attend the Final Approval Hearing, you may ask the Court for permission to speak. To do so, you must file a written “Notice of Intent to Appear in Ziccarello v. Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.) Corp., No. 19-CV-16623.” Your Notice of Intent to Appear must be submitted to the Court either by mailing it to the address in FAQ 26, or by filing it in person at any location of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, no later than May 28, 2021.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and do nothing, you will be bound by the Court’s decisions, including the Settlement’s release and waiver of claims you may have against Defendants related to the claims made in the lawsuit. If you have a panel with Qualifying Damage and wish to receive a replacement panel or payment, you must complete and submit a claim (see FAQs 9-19).
This website summarizes the Settlement. 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. For information about how to obtain a copy of the Settlement Agreement, you can also:
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.
PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK’S OFFICE