Recognizing GBDH as attorneys who have “a deep well of national class action experience,” the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted final approval to a $67 million class action settlement that GBDH helped secure on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers against prison telephone company Global Tel (GTL). The settlement resolves a long-standing class action challenging GTL’s practice of taking funds out of customer accounts after a period of account inactivity. The settlement provides a full refund to eligible account holders nationwide affected by GTL’s inactivity policy from April 3, 2011 through October 6, 2021. The settlement also requires GTL to reform its inactivity policy. GBDH represents the class along with lead counsel Caplan Cobb, and Radford & Keebaugh, LLC, and Andrew R. Lynch, P.C.
GTL is the largest provider of telecommunications services to prisons and jails in the United States. Class members are those individuals who established and funded prepaid accounts nationwide via GTL’s automated telephone system to receive calls from loved ones who were incarcerated in jails or prisons. Since 2011, GTL had a policy of taking all funds that remained in a prepaid account if the account was inactive for a period of 90 to 180 days.
Under the settlement, class members who currently have an active account with GTL will automatically have their account credited with any money taken under the inactivity policy, without the need to file a claim. Class members whose accounts with GTL are inactive may file a claim to receive a full cash refund. In addition, if an inactive account holder does not file a claim but re-establishes a prepaid account with GTL within two years of the settlement, that account holder will automatically be credited the amount of money GTL took as a result of the account’s inactivity.
The settlement also requires GTL to substantially reform its inactivity policy in the following ways:
- GT L must fully disclose its inactivity policy to its customers and obtain the customers’ consent to the policy.
- GTL must double the time, from 90 days to 180 days, that an account is inactive before it applies the inactivity policy to a customer’s account.
- GTL must provide the customer with at least 30 days’ advance notice before taking money from their account because of inactivity.
- GTL must display the terms of the inactivity policy on the homepage of its website and marketing materials.