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NGC reaches settlement terms

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. reached settlement terms in a class action suit brought against it by a Florida collector. Still subject to court approval in November, the terms would give Florida collector Tom Francisco $7,500 for his troubles, Florida attorneys will receive  $195,000 for representation, and the American Numismatic Association $447,500 for consumer education.

Francisco brought his case last year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, as a class action lawsuit entitled Thomas Francisco v. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America d/b/a NGC.

He claims that NGC took U.S. Mint  bullion coins and designated them ?First Strikes? and ?improperly informed the coin buying public that the designation of these coins were among the first coins struck by the United States Mint.? That led to the inference that they ?were worth more money than identical coins that did not carry NGC?s ?First Strikes? designation.?

Litigating under Florida?s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, NGC denied the allegations.

According to plaintiff?s counsel, the incremental revenue NGC was paid for its ?First Strikes? designation program was less than $90,000. They also state that, ?Because the designated coins may have been resold to third parties, class members are difficult to identify, and the expense of distributing the fund could consume the fund itself, so payment of the settlement proceeds to a charity is appropriate.?

The District Court judge ruled early on that the litigation could be maintained on behalf of all persons who purchased and or otherwise paid for NGC-designated ?First Strikes? U.S. bullion coins.

 If the court approves this settlement, it will enter a judgment that will dismiss the litigation on the merits and with prejudice as to all class members who have not requested to be excluded. That is, they will be barred from future recovery.

If as a collector you otherwise qualify ? i.e., you bought ?first strike? coins with the NGC designation ? and do not request exclusion from the class, the terms of settlement provide that you will remain a class member represented by co-lead counsel, Lipcon, Marguiles & Alsina, P.A., Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A., and the Law Office of David H. Pollack, P.A.

If you wish to opt out, you must identify the NGC Certification Number for each coin you contend was designated by NGC as a ?First Strikes? U.S. bullion coin, for which you claim you were misled into believing was one of the first coins struck off a new die.

You then need to mail a signed letter requesting exclusion to Tucker Ronzetti, Esq., Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A., 2525 Ponce de Leon Blvd., 9th Floor, Coral Gables, Florida 33134, postmarked on or before Nov. 13, 2007.

If you do not submit a timely opt-out request that complies with these requirements, it will be deemed invalid and you will not be excluded from the class and will be bound by any judgment or final disposition as a class member.

On Dec. 13, 2007, a public fairness hearing will be held before Judge Jose E. Martinez in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ? 301 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33128. At the fairness hearing, the court will determine whether the settlement is just, fair, reasonable and adequate. Class members are not required to attend the fairness hearing.

Class members also have the right to intervene in or object to this settlement. To do so, you must submit your written statement setting forth your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address and other requirements detailed on the settlement?s Web site, www.FirstStrikesSettlement.com

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