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Githieya v. Global Tel Link Corp, GA,Order Granting Settlement, Breach of Contract, 2022

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Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 1 of 25




This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Unopposed Motion for Final
Approval of Class Action Settlement [dkt. 354] and Class Counsel’s Unopposed
Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Costs, and Expenses [dkt. 338]. Having considered
these motions, the briefs and evidence filed in support, the arguments of those who
appeared at the Final Approval Hearing, and the declarations submitted by the
Settlement Administrator, the Court GRANTS both motions.
Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the proposed Settlement Class, and
Defendant entered into a Class Action Settlement Agreement and Release that, if
approved, will resolve this litigation. Dkt. 326-1. The proposed Settlement will

Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 2 of 25

provide Settlement Class Members with reimbursement of the amounts that
Defendant Global Tel*Link (“GTL”) retained pursuant to the Inactivity Policy that
Plaintiffs challenged in this case, either by cash payment after receipt of a
validated claim, or for persons who have current AdvancePay Accounts or who
reactivate AdvancePay Accounts within two years of final approval, automatic
credits to their AdvancePay Accounts. Further, the Settlement obligates GTL to
make significant changes to its business practices that will help prevent the breach
of contract that Plaintiffs alleged GTL’s Inactivity Policy has historically caused
for class members. On January 29, 2022, the Court granted preliminary approval of
the Settlement and ordered notice of the Settlement be directed to the Class. Dkt.
After the preliminary approval order, the parties provided notice to the
Settlement Class via the Court-approved notice protocol. See generally dkt. 357-1
(Declaration from Settlement Administrator). According to the Settlement
Administrator, 9,854,668 direct notices were delivered by mail or email, and
publication notice resulted in more than 180 million media impressions. By the
claim deadline, Settlement Class Members had submitted more than 232,000
claims, representing approximately 410,000 GTL AdvancePay Accounts. Id. ¶ 27;
dkt. 360-1 ¶ 4. Just one class member submitted an objection to the settlement,


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albeit after the Court’s notice deadline, and only seven class members submitted
timely opt-out requests. Id.
On August 26, 2022, this Court held a Final Approval Hearing to evaluate
the Settlement, the notice provided to the class members, and Class Counsel’s
Motion for Fees, Costs, and Expenses.
The Court having duly considered the motions, the Settlement Agreement,
the lengthy record in this matter, and the briefs and arguments of counsel and
amicus curiae, hereby orders as follows:

The Court finds that it has jurisdiction over the Action and each of the

parties for purposes of settlement and asserts jurisdiction over the Class Plaintiffs
and Defendant for purposes of considering and effectuating this Settlement.

Unless defined herein, all defined terms in this Order shall have the

meanings ascribed to them in the Settlement Agreement.

Defendant does not oppose Final Approval of the Settlement or Class

Counsel’s request for fees, costs, and expenses.

This Court has considered all of the presentations and submissions

related to the motions before the Court and, having presided over and managed this
Action for more than seven years, is familiar with the facts, contentions, claims,


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 4 of 25

and defenses as they have developed in these proceedings, and is otherwise fully
advised of all relevant facts.

Certification of the Settlement Class

On a motion for final approval of a class-action settlement, this Court

must first evaluate whether certification of a settlement class is appropriate under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b). Certification is appropriate when the
proposed class meets all the requirements of Rule 23(a) and one or more
subsections of Rule 23(b). Rule 23(a) requires: (1) numerosity, (2) commonality,
(3) typicality, and (4) adequacy of representation. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1)-(4). Rule
23(b)(2) supports certification when “the party opposing the class has acted or
refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive
relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a
whole.” Rule 23(b)(3) requires that (1) “the questions of law or fact common to
class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members”
and (2) “a class action [be] superior to other available methods for fairly and
efficiently adjudicating the controversy.”

The Court has analyzed each of these factors, and it finds no reason to

disturb its earlier conclusion preliminarily certifying the Settlement Class. Dkt. 333
at 2–3. As an initial matter, the Settlement Class is ascertainable, as demonstrated


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by the Settlement Administrator’s use of GTL’s data to derive a list of potential
Settlement Class Members. Importantly, from those records, the parties and
Settlement Administrator were able to identify those AdvancePay Accounts from
which GTL retained funds under its Inactivity Policy and which, therefore,
suffered the injury that Plaintiffs’ claims sought to redress.

The Court finds that the prerequisites for a class action under Rule

23(a) have also been satisfied. The Settlement Class, which encompasses millions
of individuals, is so numerous that joinder of all Settlement Class Members in the
same action is impracticable. Common questions of law and fact apply to the
Settlement Class Members’ claims because each class member was impacted by
GTL’s nationwide inactivity practice. Likewise, the Class Plaintiffs’ claims are
typical of the Settlement Class’s claims because, as alleged, their claims are all
premised on the same uniform practice and uniform contract. Additionally, the
Class Representatives and Class Counsel have fairly and adequately protected the
interests of the Settlement Class.

The Court next finds that Rule 23(b)(2) is satisfied because GTL has

acted on grounds that apply generally to the Settlement Class, such that the nonmonetary relief proposed in the Settlement is appropriate respecting the class as a


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Rule 23(b)(3) is also satisfied. The questions of law or fact common

to Settlement Class Members sufficiently predominate over any individualized
questions. Plaintiffs have alleged, and the Court issued an order preventing
Defendants from arguing to the contrary, that Class Members’ claims all arise from
a single, uniform call script that Plaintiffs have alleged constituted the relevant
contract, are based on an Inactivity Policy that GTL applied uniformly across the
country. Moreover, a class action is the superior method for adjudicating the
Settlement Class Members’ claims, given that the average claim amount is less
than $8, making individual adjudication economically infeasible.1

Thus, pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and

for purposes of consummating and effectuating the Settlement, the Court hereby
certifies a Settlement Class defined as:
All persons nationwide who (i) established and funded a prepaid
account through GTL’s interactive-voice response (‘IVR’) system and
(ii) had a positive account balance that was reduced to $0.00 due to
account inactivity for 180 days or less on or after April 3, 2011, and
through and including October 6, 2021.

Specifically excluded from the Settlement Class are the following

persons: employees of GTL and each of their respective immediate family


The Court need not consider manageability in assessing whether to certify
the Settlement Class. Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 620 (1997).

Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 7 of 25

members; Class Counsel; and the judges who have presided over this Action and
any related cases.
II. Final Approval of the Settlement

This Court must next determine whether the Settlement is fair,

reasonable, and adequate. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e). The Court must consider four
criteria in making this determination: (1) whether the class was adequately
represented; (2) whether the settlement was negotiated at arm’s length; (3) whether
the relief is adequate, taking into account the costs, risks, and delay of trial and
appeal, how the relief will be distributed, the terms governing attorney’s fees, and
any side agreements; and (4) whether class members are treated equitably relative
to each other. Id. In addition, in this Circuit, the Court must consider the factors set
forth in Bennett v. Behring Corp., 737 F.2d 982 (11th Cir. 1984), many of which
overlap with Rule 23(e).

The Court finds that the Settlement satisfies each prong of Rule 23(e).

Plaintiffs and Class Counsel have adequately represented the class by vigorously
prosecuting this action for many years and by securing this Settlement, which is
likely to provide complete relief to every class member who timely seeks it.


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Additionally, the Settlement is the result of a good-faith and arm’s-

length negotiation process, which included multiple mediation sessions and
multiple arbitration hearings with highly qualified neutrals.

Substantively, the Settlement provides significant benefits to the

Settlement Class—likely above and beyond what could be achieved through
litigation, while also avoiding the significant costs, risks, and delays that continued
litigation would present to the parties.

Under the Settlement, class members who are current GTL

AdvancePay Account holders will receive an automatic credit for the full amount
GTL took under the Inactivity Policy at issue in this case. Class members who do
not currently have AdvancePay Accounts but who submitted claims during the
claims process will receive reimbursement for the full amounts GTL retained from
their accounts under its Inactivity Policy.2 Finally, other class members without
active AdvancePay Accounts who (a) did not submit claims, and (b) reestablish an
AdvancePay Account will remain eligible for a credit in the full amount GTL
retained under its Inactivity Policy for up to two years after this order. As other


Approximately 2100 class members submitted claim forms after the deadline.
The parties have agreed that any claim postmarked within two weeks after the
deadline will be honored as timely. Approximately 1201 of the 2100 class
members who submitted claim forms after the deadline filed their claims within
two weeks of the deadline. As such, those 1201 claims shall be treated as timely.

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courts in this Circuit have observed, settlements like this one that effectively
provide “complete relief to [all] class members” who seek it are
“extraordinary”⎯a fact that weighs heavily in favor of approval. Montoya v. PNC
Bank, N.A., No. 1420474CIVGOODMAN, 2016 WL 1529902, at *3 (S.D. Fla.
Apr. 13, 2016) (approving settlement).

In addition to providing likely complete monetary relief for class

members, the Settlement also requires GTL to alter its business practices in order
to help prevent the kind of claims and allegations raised in this case. The nonmonetary aspects of the Settlement will also provide other benefits, such as preforfeiture notification, for at least the next five years. Such non-monetary
provisions should be taken into consideration in determining whether to approve a
settlement agreement. Poertner v. Gillette Co., 618 F. App’x 624, 626 (11th Cir.

Specifically, pursuant to the Settlement’s non-monetary provisions,

GTL has agreed to make significant changes to its business practices, including (i)
lengthening its standard inactivity period from 90 to 180 days; (ii) guaranteeing
that accountholders can obtain a refund of any amounts they have deposited into
their accounts at any time during that period; (iii) prominently disclosing its
Inactivity Policy and its refund policies across multiple platforms, including in its


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automated IVR, on its customer-facing website(s), in its brochures, and through
training of customer service representatives; (iv) explicitly informing customers
who create accounts using its automated IVR system of the Inactivity Policy and
obtaining their affirmative consent to the policy; and (v) providing customers who
opt into receiving electronic notices a warning by email or text message that their
accounts may go inactive thirty days in advance, so that they have adequate time to
seek and obtain a refund if they wish to do so.

These business practice changes will provide valuable, lasting benefits

to members of the class. According to the unchallenged testimony of Plaintiffs’
expert, Ian Ratner, this non-monetary relief alone is worth between $83,772,040
and $127,727,184 to the Settlement Class. This relief weighs heavily in favor of
approving the Settlement.

As discussed below, Class Counsel’s requested award for fees and

expenses is also reasonable, even when compared against only the monetary relief
in the Settlement. When measured against the value of both the monetary and nonmonetary relief, the requested fee and expenses award is reasonable.

Finally, the Settlement treats class members equitably. Each class

member had an equal opportunity to recover the full amount retained from his or
her account as a result of GTL’s Inactivity Policy, and even individual class


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members who did not file timely clams will continue to have an opportunity to
receive credits for two years after the Settlement is approved, likely for the full
value of the amounts GTL retained from the individual class member under its
Inactivity Policy.

Moreover, the claims process here has been effective in distributing

the Settlement’s benefits to class members, including by allowing class members
to file claims utilizing a streamlined, simple claim form, providing automatic
refunds to class members who maintain active accounts with GTL, and providing a
further opportunity for class members to obtain credit for up to the next two years
for those class members who did not file claims.

The Court further finds that notice was given in accordance with the

preliminary approval order, and that the form and content of that notice, and the
procedures for dissemination, afforded adequate protections to Settlement Class
Members, satisfied the requirements of Rule 23 and due process, and constituted
the best notice practicable under the circumstances.3

In sum, the Settlement meets all of the criteria of Rule 23(e).


The Court further finds that the notice provisions of the Class Action
Fairness Act of 2005 were satisfied. See dkt. 330-1 ¶¶ 3-4.

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For many of the same reasons, the Settlement also satisfies the

Bennett factors, particularly given the class’s extremely favorable reaction. Only
0.00007% of class members chose to opt out of the Settlement, and only one
attempted to lodge an objection to the Settlement.4 Such overwhelming approval
weighs heavily in favor of final approval of the Settlement. E.g., Janicijevic v.
Classica Cruise Operator, Ltd., Case No. 20-cv-23223-BLOOM/Louis, 2021 WL
2012366, at *7 (S.D. Fla. May 20, 2021) (finding “opposition to the Settlement has
been de minimis” where there were “no objections and only eight exclusion
requests”); In re CP Ships Ltd., Sec. Litig., No. 8:05–MD–1656–T–27TBM, 2008


The Court notes that one class member filed an objection. Dkts. 349, 349-1,
352. But the deadline had passed by the time that objection was filed, and the
objection did not contain all of the information that this Court ordered be included
in any objection. Accordingly, the objection is OVERRULED. Even looking past
these defects, the objection does not undermine the Court’s conclusion that the
Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The class member essentially objected
that the Settlement does not impose punitive damages on GTL or compensate class
members for mental anguish or suffering. Because such damages are typically not
available as remedies for the claims Plaintiffs asserted here, the Court finds that the
class member’s objection does not change the Court’s conclusion. E.g., Cummings
v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C., 142 S. Ct. 1562, 1571–72, reh'g denied, 142 S.
Ct. 2853 (2022) (“[E]motional distress is generally not compensable in contract, . .
. punitive damages . . . are generally not available for breach of contract,” and
“[m]ental suffering caused by breach of contract, although it may be a real injury,
is not generally allowed as a basis for compensation in contractual actions.”
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted)). Accordingly, even if the
objection were considered on its merits, the Objection would be overruled for these
reasons as well.

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WL 4663363, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 21, 2008) (approving settlement with seven
requests for exclusion), aff’d, 578 F.3d 1306 (11th Cir. 2009).

The Court also notes that the Prison Policy Initiative (“PPI”) filed an

amicus curiae brief raising its concern that the non-monetary relief in the
Settlement Agreement could in the future be interpreted to override tariffs filed
with state agencies that require GTL to provide more consumer-protective policies.
Dkt. 344-1 at 5-6. But in response, GTL conceded that it would remain obligated to
comply with any tariffs that required more robust protections than those laid out in
the Settlement Agreement. Dkt. 347 at 3–5. Consequently, PPI acknowledged that
many of its concerns were alleviated. Dkt. 350 at 2, 3. GTL also acknowledged
that it would change tariffs to reflect the agreed-upon 180-day inactivity policy
where it determined that such change was necessary. Section IV(D)(iii). Absent an
obligation to provide lesser protections, the business-practice changes required in
Section IV(D) of the Settlement Agreement will govern, effectively setting a
minimum floor for the protections that GTL must provide. Moreover, as GTL
concedes, the Settlement Agreement also obligates GTL to take action within 120
days of final approval of the Settlement to amend tariffs to reflect the 180-day
inactivity period required under the Settlement. The Court thus finds that PPI’s


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concerns have been adequately addressed by the Settlement and by the parties’
statements to this Court.

The Court finds that the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate,

and grants final approval of the Settlement.5

At their request, the seven individuals who have sought exclusion and

whose names are reflected on the Opt-Out List provided by the settlement
administrator are excluded from the Settlement Class.
III. Award of Attorneys’ Fees, Costs, and Expenses

Class Counsel requests an award of $18.425 million in attorneys’ fees

and $250,000 in expenses. Dkt. 338. No class member objected to the attorneys’
fees or costs. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(h), this Court “may award
reasonable attorney’s fees and nontaxable costs that are authorized by law or by the
parties’ agreement.” Such awards are justified “when litigation . . . confers
substantial monetary or nonmonetary benefits on members of an ascertainable
class.” Camden I Condo. Ass’n v. Dunkle, 946 F.2d 768, 771 (11th Cir. 1991). Fees
in common-fund cases such as this one must be evaluated as a percentage of the

Per the parties’ request in the Settlement Agreement, and based on the
Court’s independent review, the Court expressly finds that the provision of preforfeiture notice by text or other notice as provided for in the Settlement
Agreement shall not be deemed a marketing communication or a violation of the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).


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total value of the relief provided to a class in a settlement agreement. Id. at 774-75.
Both the monetary awards and any non-monetary relief provided by the Settlement
must be considered in evaluating the benefits conferred on the class. Poertner, 618
F. App’x at 628–30 (both monetary and non-monetary relief should be considered
when evaluating the appropriate fee in a class settlement). Additionally, in this
Circuit, a court considering a petition for fees in a class action should consider the
entire value of the benefit made available to the settlement class, not the amount
actually claimed by the class. E.g., Waters v. Int’l Precious Metals Corp., 190 F.3d
1291, 1297 (11th Cir. 1999) (explaining that “the Supreme Court [has] . . . rul[ed]
that class counsel are entitled to a reasonable fee based on the funds potentially
available to be claimed, regardless of the amount actually claimed”).

The relief provided by the Settlement includes the $67 million

Settlement Fund and substantial non-monetary relief provisions in Section IV(D).
Based on the uncontested expert testimony submitted by Class Counsel, the total
value of the Settlement including both monetary and non-monetary benefits is
between $150 million and $194 million. See dkt. 339-1 (Declaration of Ian Ratner)
at 8–9 (opining that the settlement’s nonmonetary relief is worth between $83.7
and $127.8 million dollars). The fee award Class Counsel requests is thus between
9.46% and 12.22% of the total value of the Settlement—far below the 25% level


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that is “generally recognized as a reasonable fee award in common fund cases.”
Nelson v. Mead Johnson & Johnson Co., 484 F. App’x 429, 435 (11th Cir. 2012);
see dkt. 338-3 (Declaration of Professor Robert Klonoff) at 28–31 (opining that the
requested fee is “well below the Eleventh Circuit’s 25% benchmark”). Moreover,
even as compared only to the value of the monetary relief, the requested fee award
is 27.5% of the Settlement Fund—within the 20% to 30% of the fund that the
Eleventh Circuit has repeatedly approved. See In re Equifax Inc. Customer Data
Sec. Breach Litig., 999 F.3d 1247, 1281 (11th Cir. 2021) (collecting cases)
(quoting Camden I, 946 F.2d at 774-75).

Considering the factors set out in Camden I, the Court finds that

Class Counsel’s requested fee is reasonable. 946 F.2d at 772 n.3. Specifically, (1)
Class Counsel invested significant time and expenses on both investigating and
litigating this case; (2) this case involved novel and difficult legal questions,
including issues of federal-agency jurisdiction and GTL’s factually complex
defenses; (3) this case required, and Class Counsel demonstrated, a high level of
skill and experience; (4) Class Counsel’s acceptance of this case precluded them
from taking other work; (5) the requested fee is less than or equal to the customary
fee approved in similar cases; (6) this case is being prosecuted on a purely
contingent basis; (7) Class Counsel worked under considerable time pressure in


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this matter; (8) Class Counsel obtained a Settlement with extraordinary benefits for
the class; (9) Class Counsel are highly experienced in litigating class-action and
complex cases; (10) this case presented a number of challenges that would have
made it undesirable to other lawyers; (11) the Settlement was not reached until
after substantial and complex litigation had occurred; and (12) Class Counsel
undertook a significant economic risk by devoting thousands of hours of time to
this matter with no guarantee of recovery. See dkt. 338-3 at 30–46 (opining that
“application of the Camden I factors demonstrates the reasonableness of the fees
sought here”); see also dkt. 338-1 (Declaration of Michael A. Caplan) at 4–40
(detailing the years of work Class Counsel devoted to this case and the value the
Settlement provides, particularly in light of the maximum damages that could have
been recovered at trial and non-monetary relief that may not have been available);
dkt. 338-5 (Declaration of Linda M. Dardarian) at 16–18 (detailing the work of
counsel from California who participated in Class Counsel’s efforts to expand the
class nationwide); dkt. 338-4 (Declaration of James Radford) at 7–9 (detailing the
substantial pre-suit work Class Counsel engaged in and the complexity associated
with navigating this matter through arbitration in its early stages). In short, the
Court concludes that the fee Class Counsel requests is reasonable, warranted in


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light of their work and the facts and circumstances of this case, and appropriate
based on the principles by which such requests are assessed in this Circuit.

The Court finds that a lodestar cross-check is not necessary here for

the reasons set forth in the declaration of Professor Robert Klonoff. Dkt. 338-3 at
46–49 & nn.50–53. Nonetheless, even if the Court conducted such a cross-check,
the Court would find, as Professor Klonoff testified, that the “multiplier of less
than 3.5” over the time Class Counsel actually spent in this case and would have
billed at their standard hourly rates “is in line with multipliers” approved in other
cases in this Circuit. Dkt. 338-3 at 28; see also Pinto v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.,
513 F. Supp. 2d 1334, 1344 (S.D. Fla. 2007) (“[L]odestar multiples in large and
complicated class actions range from 2.26 to 4.5, while three appears to be the
average.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Based on the
uncontradicted testimony of two seasoned Georgia attorneys⎯former United
States Attorney Michael J. Moore and former King & Spalding partner John A.
Chandler⎯the time Class Counsel devoted to this case and Class Counsel’s rates
are reasonable and appropriate, and the fees and expenses that Class Counsel seeks
are also reasonable and appropriate in light of the successful result they have
achieved. Dkt. 338-6 (Declaration of Michael J. Moore) at 5–13; dkt. 338-7
(Declaration of John A. Chandler) at 7–17; see also dkt. 338-5 at 18–22


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 19 of 25

(describing the reasonableness of the hours devoted and rates charged by
Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian, & Ho).

As to Class Counsel’s request for $250,000 in expenses, such requests

are generally “granted ‘as a matter of course’ in common fund cases” like this one.
Amin v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, No. 1:17-CV-01701-AT, 2020 WL 5510730, at
*5 (N.D. Ga. Sept. 11, 2020). Class Counsel submitted a detailed itemization of the
more than $280,000 in costs and expenses they advanced to prosecute this action
on behalf of the class, along with declarations attesting to the necessity and
reasonableness of those expenses. See dkt. 338-1; dkt. 338-4, dkt. 338-5. This
amount included the costs of experts, court reporters, filing fees, mediation costs,
legal research, and other ordinary litigation expenses that are considered
compensable from a common fund. The Court finds that the costs and expenses
that Class Counsel advanced were reasonable and necessary to the prosecution of
this action. See dkt. 338-5 at 22–23; dkt. 338-6 at 13; dkt. 338-7 at 17. Indeed, the
requested expense award is less than what Class Counsel actually incurred. The
Court concludes that an award of fees in the amount of $250,000 is appropriate and
consistent with the legal principles governing such awards in this Circuit.

Accordingly, this Court grants Class Counsel’s Motion for Attorneys’

Fees, Costs, and Expenses and orders GTL to pay Class Counsel $18.425 million


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 20 of 25

in attorneys’ fees and $250,000 in expenses, in accordance with the terms of the
Settlement Agreement.6

Accordingly, the Court FINDS (1) that it has personal jurisdiction

over the Class Plaintiffs, GTL, and all Settlement Class Members and (2) that it
has subject-matter jurisdiction over this case and to approve the Settlement.

The Court also FINDS that the Settlement Class Notice Program (i)

constituted the best practicable notice under the circumstances; (ii) constituted
notice that was reasonably calculated under the circumstances to apprise the
Settlement Class of the pendency of the Action, of their rights to object to or
exclude themselves from the proposed Settlement, and of their right to appear at
the Fairness Hearing; (iii) constituted reasonable, due, adequate, and sufficient

The Court notes that it previously awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses in
connection with its Order of November 30, 2020, granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for
Sanctions. See dkt. 275; see also dkt. 277. The Court has been informed of the fees
and expenses paid to Class Counsel in connection with such Order. Because GTL
paid these fees and expenses as the result of a previous order, such fees and
expenses should not be considered under the percentage-of-the-fund approach
required in this Circuit. See dkt. 338-3 at 48 & n.55. But even if that amount were
added to the fee request here, the Court finds that the total amount of fees and
expenses awarded to Class Counsel is less than 33 1/3% of the Settlement Fund
and less than 20% of the total value of the Settlement, a fee percentage that is
reasonable and routinely approved in this Circuit. Waters, 190 F.3d at 1298
(affirming 33 1/3% of common fund as fee award).


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notice to all persons entitled to receive notice; and (iv) met all requirements
applicable law, including Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) and the Due
Process Clause.

Additionally, the Court FINDS that the Settlement Class satisfies the

requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), (b)(2), and (b)(3) and
accordingly CERTIFIES the Settlement Class for purposes of the Settlement.

The Court also hereby GRANTS the Motion for Final Approval of

the Settlement. The Court fully and finally approves the Settlement in the form
contemplated by the Settlement Agreement (Dkt. 326-1) and finds its terms to be
fair, reasonable, and adequate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e). The
Court directs that the Settlement be implemented, performed, and consummated in
full pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement.

The Court also FINDS that Class Counsel and the Class Plaintiffs

adequately represented the Settlement Class for purposes of entering into and
implementing the Settlement and Settlement Agreement.

Based on the findings and conclusions set forth above, the Court

hereby GRANTS Class Counsel’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Costs, and
Expenses and AWARDS Class Counsel $18,425,000.00 in fees and $250,000.00


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 22 of 25

in expenses, for a total payment of $18,675,000.00, to be paid by GTL in the time
and manner prescribed by the Settlement Agreement.

Further, the Court hereby approves the Opt-Out List and determines

that the Opt-Out List is a complete list of all Settlement Class Members who have
timely and validly requested exclusion from the Settlement Class and, accordingly,
shall neither share in nor be bound by the Settlement as finally approved.

The Court hereby discharges and releases the Released Claims as to

the Released Parties, as defined in the Settlement Agreement. Further, the Court
hereby permanently bars and enjoins the institution and prosecution by Class
Plaintiffs and any Settlement Class Member of any other action against the
Released Parties in any court or other forum asserting any of the Released Claims,
as defined in the Settlement Agreement.

The Court DISMISSES this Action with prejudice and determines,

under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) that this judgment of dismissal as to
the Released Parties shall be final and entered forthwith.

Without affecting the finality of the judgment, the Court shall

maintain continuing jurisdiction with respect to the implementation and
enforcement of the terms of the Settlement; the Claims Process; the distribution of
the Settlement Fund to class members; the payment of attorneys’ fees, costs, and


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 23 of 25

expenses; the payment of case-contribution awards, should the conditions for
payment be satisfied; and over this Judgment.

Plaintiffs, Settlement Class Members, and Defendants irrevocably

submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of this Court for the resolution of any matter
arising out of or relating to the Settlement, the Agreement, or this Order, except as
otherwise provided in the Settlement Agreement (e.g., Section XV(B)). All
applications to the Court with respect to any aspect of the Settlement, the
Settlement Agreement, or this Order shall be presented for resolution to United
States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg or, if she is not available, any other
District Court Judge designated by the Court.

Accordingly, the Clerk shall enter a separate judgment consistent with

the terms of this Order pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 58.
* * *

This case entailed difficult twists and turns both in litigation of liability and
negotiation of a class-wide remedy. In its more than seven-year lifespan, the
circumstances of this case morphed multiple times. Plaintiffs’ Counsel nimbly
navigated this ever-changing litigation landscape and poured thousands of hours
into this case’s preparation. After the Court’s Orders on class certification and
sanctions of November 30, 2020 and the Eleventh Circuit’s June 24, 2021 denial of


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 24 of 25

Defendant’s Petition for Permission to Appeal, all counsel moved forward with the
aim of negotiating a comprehensive, class-wide solution. The Court appreciates
these efforts on all sides, as it is clear that the case could have alternatively spun on
and on without tangible results.
All counsel tackled the major challenges of negotiating nationwide class
relief with great legal skill, persistence, flexibility, and creativity. This demanding
and complex work was also aided by Plaintiffs’ thoughtful expansion of their legal
team to include additional counsel with a deep well of national class action
experience as well as a superb team of class action administration specialists. The
Court also recognizes the crucial role played by the mediator and arbitrator who
helped to facilitate the ultimate settlement in this case.
The Settlement Agreement here provides significant and meaningful relief to
class members. While the Settlement Agreement’s monetary remedy for
participating class members is essential, the planned structural changes in the way
that GTL will operate its prison phone service to ensure fairness and openness in
the solicitation and administration of these accounts during the next five years and
beyond will clearly benefit members of our society with loved ones in prisons and
jails across the country.


Case 1:15-cv-00986-AT Document 369 Filed 08/30/22 Page 25 of 25

For all the reasons discussed herein, the Court finds that the Class Action
Settlement Agreement both meets and exceeds the mandates of Rule 23 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

IT IS SO ORDERED this 30th day of August, 2022.

The Honorable Amy Totenberg
United States District Court Judge