Cape Cod settles class-action suit

Nathan Domenighini

Former residents of Cape Cod Village may have been surprised when they recently received letters informing them of a return from their former rented residence following a class-action lawsuit that was settled by the Morton apartment complex.

Former resident Nick Stroman said he received $100 as a result of the settlement (Full disclosure: Nick Stroman was a former reporter for the Morton Times-News).

Though he was unaware of the class-action suit and its resulting settlement, he said he still thinks the amount returned to him was too little compared to the work he and his roommate put into cleanup efforts prior to moving out July 2008.

The case was opened by former Cape Cod Village residents Todd Bunton and Alex and Jay Etcheson. Neither of the individuals could not be reached for comment. Bunton received $2,000 and the Etchesons jointly received a check for $2,300. Those amounts were not withdrawn from the settlement fund provided by Cape Cod Village.

Receiving class members include anyone who leased an apartment at Cape Cod Village at any time after Nov. 1, 2005, who paid either a security deposit and/or a refundable pet fee. Class members who submit a valid claim by March 19 are eligible to receive a portion of an established $20,000 class settlement fund provided by Cape Cod Village. If the total amount of claims exceeds $20,000, the Morton apartment complex is required to contribute up to $25,000.

Residents within the requirements who gave Cape Cod Village a security deposit and/or a refundable pet deposit and had deductions taken from that deposit for third-party work, such as carpet replacement and repair charges, will receive $100 as a result of the settlement.

Bunton and the Etchesons sued Cape Cod Village, alleging that it violated the Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act when it allegedly failed to pay interest on security deposits within 30 days after the end of each 12-month rental period to the apartment complex tenants.

Cape Cod owner James Stewart said the settlement was the result of an oversight of a state requirement.

“Cape Cod Village was brought to court for not paying interest on a security deposit by a former resident,” Stewart said in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, we did not realize that the interest on these deposits were due upon resident move-out, and we quickly rectified the situation.”

Many states do not require the interest payment, he added.

“As part of our settlement, we are in the process of paying back any former residents who were not paid interest, and have taken strong safeguards to ensure that all current and future residents will always get interest paid with their security deposit upon move-out,” Stewart said.

Stroman said his security deposit was about $500, perhaps more. But, considering the amount of effort placed in cleaning his apartment unit, he said he was completely shocked at the amount withdrawn from his security deposit for third-party work.

“They put all these bogus cleaning fees on there that they didn’t even tell us about,” Stroman said. “Whatever we got back, it was really, really small.”

He and his roommate spent hours cleaning the floors, walls and carpet in their apartment unit.

“If we knew we weren’t going to get anything back, then why would we do it?” he said.

Though the settlement was not focused on overall security deposit returns, only interest, Stroman said he is still unsatisfied with the amount he received after moving out.