Frequently Asked Questions
Why did I get the Notice?
You received the Notice because you appear in GTL’s records as having used GTL’s services to place or receive telephone calls from an inmate incarcerated in a New Jersey state prison or jail between 2006 and 2016.
The Court has directed that the Notice be sent to you because, as a potential member of the Class, you have the right to know about the Settlement reached in this Action between Plaintiffs, on behalf of the Class, and GTL and about all of your options before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.
The Court in charge of this Action is the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The case is called James v. Global Tel*Link, Civil Action No. 13-4989 (WJM)(MF). United States District Court Judge William J. Martini is overseeing this Action. The persons who brought this case are the plaintiffs, and the companies they sued are called defendants.
What is this lawsuit about?
GTL provided Inmate Calling Services (“ICS”) for New Jersey State prisons and for correctional facilities in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties. Inmates utilized ICS provided by GTL to place outgoing calls to friends and family. Plaintiffs alleged in the Action, among other things, that GTL’s calling rates for ICS were unconscionably high in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 58:8-2, et seq. Plaintiffs also alleged that GTL’s deposit fees were likewise unconscionably high in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The Court has not made any decision as to the merits of Class Plaintiffs’ allegations.
Who are the defendants?
The defendants are Global Tel*Link Corporation and DSI-ITI LLC (together “GTL”).
Why is this a class action?
In a class action, one or more individuals or entities, called “class representatives,” sue on behalf of others who have similar claims. The class representatives in this case are Bobbie James, Betty King, Barbara Skladany, and Mark Skladany (collectively referred to herein as “Plaintiffs”). The Plaintiffs and the individuals or entities with similar claims are individually “class members,” together comprising a class. One court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class.
Why is there a settlement of this Action with GTL?
GTL has denied all liability and wrongdoing in this case and has asserted various defenses to the Plaintiffs’ claims. The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or GTL. Instead, both sides agreed to the Settlement. That way, they avoid the cost and risk of a trial, and the Class Members affected can get compensation.
This Settlement is the product of extensive negotiations between lawyers for the Plaintiffs and GTL. The Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs’ Counsel think the Settlement is fair and in the best interests of all Class Members.
Who is Affected by the SettlementTo see if you are affected by the Settlement, you first have to determine if you are a Settlement Class Member.
Who is included in the Class?
The Class consists of:
All persons of the United States who, between 2006 and 2016, were incarcerated in a New Jersey prison or correctional institution and who used the phone system provided by Defendants, or who established an AdvancePay account with Defendants in order to receive telephone calls from a person incarcerated in New Jersey, excluding Essex County prior to June 2010, or persons receiving calls from persons incarcerated in Essex County prior to June 2011.
Excluded from the Class are 1) any Class Members who timely and validly elect to be excluded from the Class in accordance with the Preliminary Approval Order (the “Opt-Outs”), 2) any Class Members who previously excluded themselves from the Class (1) and 2) together, the “Opt-Outs”); 3) any GTL customer who set up payment by direct bill; and 4) Defendants and their respective parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates.
If you fall within this definition, and you did not previously exclude yourself from the Class, you are a Class Member.
What if I am still not sure whether I am included?
If you are still not sure if you are a Class Member, you can get free help by calling or writing Plaintiffs’ Counsel, at the phone number and address listed in FAQ 23. You may also contact the Settlement Administrator, by calling 1-855-790-7501, by emailing AddressUpdate@GTLPrisonCallsClassAction.com, or writing to James v. GTL Administrator, PO Box 30128, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
The Benefits of the Settlement
What does the Settlement provide?
GTL has agreed to pay up to $25 million in cash and credits. In addition, it will pay (i) the costs of settlement administration and notice as approved by the Court; (ii) attorneys’ fees and expenses, as approved by the Court; and (iii) Case Contribution Awards to Plaintiffs for litigating the Action on behalf of the Class as approved by the Court.
How do I receive a payment?
If you are a Class Member and do not exclude yourself, you may be eligible to receive a payment from the Settlement. If you are a Class Member and are currently using GTL’s services for accepting calls from New Jersey inmates or making calls to friends and family from New Jersey correctional facilities, you will receive a credit into your account without having to fill out a claim form. If you are a Class Member and are not currently using GTL’s services for accepting calls from New Jersey inmates or making calls to friends and family from New Jersey correctional facilities, you must fill out the Claim Form and include all the information the form asks for. Be sure to sign it, and mail it by first-class mail, or submit it online by clicking here, postmarked (if mailed) or received (if submitted online) no later than December 7, 2020 to:
James v. GTL Administrator
ATTN: Claim Form
PO Box 30128
Philadelphia, PA 19103
You may be asked to verify the accuracy of the information provided in your Claim Form. Your claim must be valid to receive money. If the Court approves the Settlement (see “The Court’s Fairness Hearing,” FAQ 19, FAQ 20, and FAQ 21 below), payments of the Settlement Relief will be distributed at a later date to members of the Class who submit valid Claim Forms.
There are specialized companies that may offer to fill out and file your Claim Form in return for a percentage of the value of your claim. Before you sign a contract with one of these companies, you should examine the claim-filing process provided here and decide whether using a specialized company is worth the cost. You can always seek help free of charge from the Settlement Administrator or Plaintiffs’ Counsel.
How much will my payment be?
Class Members who file valid claims will receive the following:
i. For Calls made between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008, 20% of the total amount spent for calling time above $.05 per minute;
ii. For Calls made between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, 15% of the total amount spent for calling time above $.05 per minute;
iii. For Calls made between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 10% of the total amount spent for calling time above $.05 per minute.
For purposes of this calculation, class members who are current GTL customers are deemed to have valid claims. Plaintiffs Counsel’s proposed plan for distributing the Settlement Relief has been will be presented to the Court with their papers in support of preliminary approval of the Settlement. Details about the proposed Plan of Distribution are available in the Settlement Agreement. Important! Class Members who exclude themselves in accordance with FAQ 13 below will not be able to share in the distribution from the Net Settlement Fund.
When will I receive a payment?
There is no date certain for making payments from the Settlement Relief. The Settlement Relief will be distributed to eligible Class Members after the Court grants final approval to the Settlement and all claims have been fully processed by the Settlement Administrator.
Please Note: The Settlement may be terminated on several grounds, including if the Court does not approve or materially modifies the Settlement. Should the Settlement be terminated, this Action will proceed against GTL as if the Settlement had not been reached. If the Settlement is terminated, there will be no payments made to Class Members.
What am I giving up to receive a pyament?
Unless you exclude yourself, you will remain in the Class, and that means that you cannot sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against GTL related to the provision of ICS. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. As set forth in sections 16-17 of the Settlement Agreement:
Release. In consideration of this Agreement and the benefits extended to the Class, Class Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the Class Members, and each Class Member, on behalf of himself or herself and his or her respective successors, assigns, past, present, and future parents, subsidiaries, joint ventures, partnerships, related companies, affiliates, directors, officers, shareholders, employees, agents, representatives, servants, partners, executors, administrators, assigns, predecessors, successors, descendants, dependents, and heirs, fully release and forever discharge the Released Parties from the Released Claims, effective as of the Settlement Effective Date.
Class Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the Class Members, fully understand that if any fact relating to any matter covered by this Agreement is later found to be other than or different from the facts now believed by Class Plaintiffs to be true, Class Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the Class Members, expressly accept and assume the risk of such possible differences in fact and agree and acknowledge that this Agreement shall nevertheless remain fully binding and effective.
This Agreement may be pleaded as a full and complete defense to, and may be used as the basis for a temporary restraining order or preliminary or permanent injunction against, any action, suit or other proceeding, which has been or may be instituted, prosecuted, continued to be prosecuted, or attempted, asserting any of the Released Claims.
Class Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs’ Counsel acknowledge that GTL considers it to be a material term of this Agreement that the provisions of this sub-section and Section 14, among other paragraphs, will bind all members of the Class who have not excluded themselves in a timely manner from the Class.
Further Release. In addition to the provisions of Section 16, the Releasing Parties hereby expressly waive and release, solely with respect to the Released Claims, upon Final Judgment, any and all provisions, rights, and benefits conferred by Section 1542 of the California Civil Code, which states:
CERTAIN CLAIMS NOT AFFECTED BY GENERAL RELEASE. A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE CREDITOR DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER MUST HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR;
or by any law of any state or territory of the United States, or principle of common law, which is similar, comparable, or equivalent to Section 1542 of the California Civil Code. Each Releasing Party may hereafter discover facts other than or different from those which he, she, or it knows or believes to be true with respect to the claims which are released pursuant to the provisions of Section 16, but each Releasing Party hereby expressly waives and fully, finally, and forever settles and releases, upon Final Judgment, any known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, contingent or non-contingent claim that the Releasing Parties have agreed to release pursuant to Section 16, whether or not concealed or hidden, without regard to the subsequent discovery or existence of such different or additional facts.
As defined in the Settlement Agreement:
- “Released Claims” are any and all claims that were brought or could have been brought in the Action relating to the provision by Defendants of telecommunications services for calls originating from prisons, jails or other correctional institutions in New Jersey during the Class Period, including without limitation the rates or fees for such services.
- “Released Parties” shall refer individually and collectively, as appropriate, to Global Tel*Link Corporation and DSI-ITI LLC and all of their past and present parent companies, subsidiaries, joint ventures, partnerships, affiliates, controlled entities, assignees, and all of their respective predecessors, assigns, and successors-in-interest, and all of their respective present or former directors, officers, members, shareholders, agents, employees, representatives, administrators, insurers, and indemnitees.
Excluding Yourself from the ClassIf you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue GTL on your own about the legal issues being resolved by the Settlement, then you must take steps to get out of the Class. This is called excluding yourself - or sometimes referred to as “opting out.” If you opt out of the Class, you will not receive any payment from the Settlement Relief.
How do I get out of the Class?
To exclude yourself, you must send a letter or email saying that you want to be excluded from the Class. If you previously excluded yourself from the Class, it is not necessary to exclude yourself a second time. The letter must include the following information: (i) a statement indicating that you want to be excluded from the Class in James v. Global Tel*Link, Civil Action No. 13-4989 (WJM)(MF); (ii) your name, address, present telephone number, and your signature; and (iii) all telephone numbers you used to receive telephone calls from New Jersey inmates in the case of AdvancePay customers, or the PIN number(s) associated with your debit account(s) or GTL calling card(s) if you are a former inmate. Exclusions by email should be sent to OptOuts@GTLPrisonCallsClassAction.com or by letter and sent to:
Class Action Opt Out
James v. GTL Administrator
ATTN: Class Action Opt Out
PO Box 30128
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Exclusions by email must be sent by , 2020 and exclusions sent by letter must be postmarked by September 21, 2020.
If you ask to be excluded from the Class you will not get any payment from the Settlement Relief pursuant to the Settlement and you cannot object to the Settlement. If you want to receive a payment from the Settlement, do not exclude yourself.
Important - Please Note Unless you exclude yourself, if the Court approves the Settlement, you give up any right to sue GTL for the claims that the Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit against GTL related to the provision of ICS, speak to your lawyer in that case immediately. You must exclude yourself from the Class in order to continue your own lawsuit against GTL.
Warning! If your request for exclusion is sent after the deadline, your request for exclusion will be considered invalid and you will not be excluded from the Class. You cannot exclude yourself by telephone.
If I exclude myself, can I receive money from the settlement?
No. If you decide to exclude yourself from the Class, you will not be able to receive money from the Settlement.
The Lawyers Representing You
Do I have a lawyer in this case?
Yes. The Court appointed James E. Cecchi, Esq. of Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C. and James A. Plaisted of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden as Class Counsel to represent the Class.
If you want to be represented by your own lawyer and have that lawyer appear in court for you concerning the Settlement, you may hire one at your own expense. If you hire your own lawyer, you must tell the Court and send a copy of your notice to Plaintiffs’ Counsel at the address set forth in FAQ 17 below.
How will the lawyers be paid?
You are not personally responsible for payment of attorneys’ fees or expenses. Plaintiffs’ Counsel will seek an award of attorneys’ fees up to $8,332,500.00 to compensate all of the lawyers and their law firms that have worked on this Action since its inception and for reimbursement of the costs and expenses advanced on behalf of the Class. If the Court approves Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s requests, these amounts will be in addition to the Settlement Relief and will not affect the amount set aside for Settlement Relief.
Plaintiffs’ Counsel will also seek Case Contribution Awards of no more than $15,000 for each of the Plaintiffs who served as proposed class representatives while the case was pending. If awarded, these amounts will also be in addition to the Settlement Relief and will not affect the amount set aside for Settlement Relief.
Important! Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, expenses and Case Contribution Awards will be on file with the Court, and available for review at on the Important Documents page of this website as of September 18, 2020.
Objecting to the Settlement, the Plan of Distribution and/or the Request for Attorneys' Fees, Expenses and Case Contribution Awards
How do I tell the Court that I don't like the Settlement, Plan of Distribution and/or the request for attorneys' fees, expenses and Case Contribution Awards?
If you are a Class Member (and have not excluded yourself), you may tell the Court that you object to (or disagree with) all or part of the Settlement, Plan of Distribution, and/or Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s request for an award of attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of expenses, and/or Case Contribution Awards to Plaintiffs. You must give reasons for your objection(s). The Court will consider your objections when it decides whether or not to finally approve the Settlement.
Your written objection must include the following: (i) a statement indicating that you object to the Settlement, the Plan of Distribution and/or the request for attorneys’ fees, expenses, or Case Contribution Awards, in in James v. Global Tel*Link, Civil Action No. 13-4989 (WJM)(MF); (ii) your name, address, present telephone number, and your signature; (iii) the reasons for the objection(s) and all documents and writings that the objector wants the Court to consider; and (iv) all telephone numbers you used to receive telephone calls from New Jersey inmates in the case of AdvancePay customers, or the PIN number(s) associated with your debit account(s) or GTL calling card(s) if you are a former inmate. If you intend to appear at the final fairness hearing, you must also include a notice of intention to appear (see FAQ 21).
To object, you must file your written objection(s) with the Court at the following address by September 21, 2020:
Clerk of Court
Martin Luther King, Jr. Building & U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07101
You must also send a copy of your written objection(s) to Plaintiffs’ Counsel and Counsel for GTL at the following addresses by September 21, 2020:
Plaintiffs' Lead Counsel Counsel for GTL James A. Plaisted
Pashman Stein Walder Hayden
Court Plaza South
21 Main Street, Suite 200
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Aaron Van Nostrand
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
500 Campus Drive, Suite 400
Florham Park, NJ 07932-0677
James E. Cecchi, Esq.
Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C.
5 Becker Farm Road
Roseland, NJ 07068
Michael R. Sklaire
Greenberg Traurig LLP
1750 Tysons Boulevard, Suite 1000
McLean, VA 22102
Derek T. Ho
Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, PLLC
1615 M Street, NW Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
What is the difference between objecting and excluding?
Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. You can object to the Settlement only if you are a Class Member and stay in the Class. Excluding yourself, or “opting out,” means that you are removing yourself from the Class and will have no right to proceeds from the Settlement. If you exclude yourself, you also have no right to object to the Settlement, because the Settlement no longer affects you.
The Court's Fairness Hearing
When and where will the court decide whether to approve the settlement?
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 1:00 p.m. on October 15, 2020, at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Martin Luther King, Jr. Building & U.S. Courthouse, 50 Walnut Street, Newark, NJ 07102. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and whether to approve the Plan of Distribution and the request for attorneys’ fees, expenses, and Case Contribution Awards. The Court will listen to Class Members who have asked to speak at the hearing. If there are objections or comments, the Court will consider them at that time. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement, the Plan of Distribution, and the request for attorneys’ fees, expenses, and Case Contribution Awards. We do not know how long a decision will take to be made.
Important! The time and date of the Fairness Hearing may change without additional mailed or publication notice. For updated information on the Fairness Hearing, please check this website for updates.
Do I have to come to the hearing?
No. Plaintiffs’ Counsel will be prepared to answer any questions the Court may have at the Fairness Hearing. However, you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you send an objection, you do not have to come to court to explain. As long as you mailed your written objection on time as set out in this Notice, the Court will consider it. You may also pay another lawyer to attend the hearing, but it is not required.
May I speak at the hearing?
You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. If you wish to do so, you must file a Notice of Intention to Appear with the Court at the following address by September 21, 2020:
Clerk of Court
Martin Luther King, Jr. Building & U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07101
You must also mail copies of the Notice of Intention to Appear to the attorneys listed in FAQ 17 above, no later than September 21, 2020.
Your Notice of Intention to Appear must include (i) the case caption, James v. Global Tel*Link, Civil Action No. 13-4989 (WJM)(MF); (ii) your name, address, present telephone number, and your signature; and (iii) personal information for other people (including lawyers) who want to speak at the hearing.
If You Do Nothing
What happens if I do nothing at all?
If you do nothing, you will remain in the Class, and you will be bound by the terms of the Settlement and will forego any right to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against GTL over the Released Claims.
If you remain in the Class, to qualify for a payment from the Settlement, Class Members who are not currently using GTL’s services to accept or place calls from New Jersey prisons or jail must submit a Claim Form, which can be filed online by clicking here. See FAQ 9 above.
Getting More Information
Where can I get more information?
The Notice summarizes the Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You can review the Settlement Agreement and other documents related to the Action on the Important Documents page of this website. In addition, Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s motions for final approval of the Settlement, Plan of Distribution and request for attorneys’ fees, expenses, and Case Contribution Awards are currently due to be filed with the Court by September 18, 2020 and will be available for review on this website.
If you have questions or want more information, you may contact the Settlement Administrator at AddressUpdate@GTLPrisonCallsClassAction.com, at James v. GTL Administrator, PO Box 30128, Philadelphia, PA 19103, at 1-855-790-7507. You can also contact Plaintiffs’ Counsel, James A. Plaisted, Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, Court Plaza South, 21 Main Street, Suite 200, Hackensack, NJ 07601; 201-488-8200 or James E. Cecchi, Esq., Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C., 5 Becker Farm Road, Roseland, NJ 07068; 973-994-1700.