If you were charged on your cell phone bill for mobile content services or subscriptions (i.e., ringtones, games, wallpapers, prizes, premium text alerts, etc.) that you never ordered or authorized tell us your story!
AT&T Class Action Settlement Over Unauthorized Third Party Mobile Content Granted Preliminary Approval
A Georgia Court granted preliminary approval of a proposed nationwide class action settlement between AT&T Mobility LLC (“AT&T”) and its wireless customers relating to AT&T’s billing of third party mobile content to its wireless telephone subscribers inTracie McFerren v. AT&T Mobility LLC, Case No. 08-CV-151322. Notifications will soon go out to 70 million current AT&T Mobility customers.
According to the AT&T Third Party Content Settlement website, you are a member of the Settlement Class and your rights are affected if you are a person (or entity) in the United States or its Territories with an AT&T Mobility account, and who was billed for third party mobile content from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008, and were not previously refunded for this charge.
A final approval hearing for the settlement is scheduled Dec. 8. Claims under the settlement must be filed within 90 days of the final approval of the settlement.
Below is a copy of the Class Action Settlement Notice posted on the AT&T Third Party Content Settlement website:
NOTICE OF PENDENCY OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF FULTON COUNTY- STATE OF GEORGIA
Tracie McFerren v. AT&T Mobility LLC, Case No. 08-CV-151322
Click Here to Download a Paper Claim Form
(You must submit a claim form postmarked within 90 days after final approval and judgment, which is expected to be March 9, 2009 (90 days after the final approval hearing currently scheduled for December 8, 2008))
Click Here to Download a Copy of the Settlement Agreement
IF YOU WERE BILLED FOR THIRD PARTY MOBILE CONTENT ON YOUR AT&T MOBILITY ACCOUNT FROM JANUARY 1, 2004 TO MAY 30, 2008
PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY THIS NOTICE RELATES TO THE PENDENCY OF CLASS ACTION LITIGATION AND IF YOU ARE A CLASS MEMBER CONTAINS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS TO MAKE A CLAIM UNDER THE SETTLEMENT OR TO OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT
The Superior Court of Fulton County, State of Georgia authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.
What Is This? This notice is to inform you of the proposed Settlement of a lawsuit pending in Georgia. The Court has granted preliminary approval of the settlement and has certified the Settlement Class defined above, subject to a fairness hearing which will take place on December 8, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 9J, Superior Court of Georgia, Fulton County to determine if the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and to consider the request for attorneys’ fees and expenses.
Similar lawsuits were filed and are pending in state and federal courts in California, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. These lawsuits relate to the sale, marketing and billing of third party mobile content to AT&T Mobility LLC (“AT&T” or “AT&T Mobility”) wireless telephone subscribers.
This notice explains the nature of the lawsuit and the terms of the settlement and informs you of your legal rights and obligations.
By settling this lawsuit, AT&T Mobility is not admitting that it is liable to the Settlement Class.
You have options, explained below.
What is Third Party Mobile Content? Third party mobile content is a product (such as ringtones, games, graphics and news or other alerts) that may be purchased and downloaded to your wireless device and is advertised, marketed and sold directly by a third party content provider/merchant other than AT&T Mobility. Third party mobile content is not advertised, marketed or directly sold by AT&T Mobility.
Who is in the Settlement Class? You are a member of the Settlement Class and your rights are affected if you are a person (or entity) in the United States or its Territories with an AT&T Mobility account, and who was billed for third party mobile content from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008, and were not previously refunded for this charge.
What is the Litigation About? Plaintiffs filed a class action in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, on behalf of a proposed class, alleging that AT&T Mobility charged its wireless subscribers for third party mobile content that was not authorized. Similar lawsuits were filed and are pending in state and federal courts throughout the county, including in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York and other states. These class actions likewise allege that AT&T Mobility charged its subscribers for third party mobile content that was not authorized. You need not live in any of these States to receive a benefit under the proposed settlement. The Georgia class action asserts claims for breach of contract and violation of state consumer protection statutes and seeks monetary and injunctive relief. To resolve this matter without the expense and uncertainties of litigation in several class actions, the Parties have reached a proposed settlement. The settlement requires AT&T Mobility to implement certain service improvements, assurances, and monetary relief under specific circumstances. This settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by any party.
What Relief is Provided To Class Members Under The Settlement?
A. Relief for All Settlement Class Members – AT&T Mobility Service Improvements & Assurances. AT&T Mobility has agreed to provide disclosures regarding mobile content in its Wireless Customer Service Agreement and on its website. In addition, AT&T Mobility will provide a telephone number and website address in all bills for customers who seek to dispute a charge. AT&T Mobility has further agreed to provide and enhance as necessary the means for its customers to freely address billing inquiries related to Third Party Mobile Content.
B. Relief for Settlement Class Members Filing Claims. In addition to the above-described service improvements, all Settlement Class members are entitled to individual relief with respect to the Settlement. AT&T Mobility has agreed to refund the amount of all eligible third party mobile content charges that were billed from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008, and subject to the limitations concerning subscriptions that follow. These refunds will be provided to the Settlement Class members as follows:
1. Refunds. AT&T Mobility shall credit or refund to any former or current account holder all unauthorized charges for third party mobile content from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008. The refund can come in one of two forms: (1) a credit on your AT&T Mobility bill; or (b) a cash payment via first-class mail. In order to obtain this relief you must properly submit either an on-line or paper claim form postmarked within 90 days after final approval and judgment, which is expected to be March 9, 2009 (90 days after the final approval hearing currently scheduled for December 8, 2008) and follow the instructions contained on the respective form and contained in this notice.
2. Subscription Charge Refund. AT&T Mobility shall refund to any former or current account holder up to three times the monthly subscription amount if the charge was recurring on a monthly or other basis based on a subscription or similar arrangement from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008. The refund can come in one of two forms: (1) a credit on your AT&T Mobility bill; or (b) a cash payment via first-class mail. In order to obtain this relief you must properly submit either an on-line or paper claim form postmarked within 90 days after final approval and judgment, which is expected to be March 9, 2009, (90 days after the final approval hearing currently scheduled for December 8, 2008) and follow the instructions contained on the respective form and contained in this notice.
To be eligible for any refund, the charges must have been unauthorized and not previously refunded to your account.
What are my Legal Rights?
How Do I File A Claim for a Refund or Subscription Charge Refund?
If you were billed for unauthorized third party mobile content on your AT&T Mobility account from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008, you may submit a claim form to obtain the “refunds” and/or the “subscription charge refund” described above. To receive any refund you must properly submit an on-line claim form by going to www.thirdpartycontentrefund.com. If you do not have access to the internet, you may obtain a claim form by downloading and printing it out or by calling the toll-free number and requesting a copy from the Claims Administrator. You must then mail a completed paper claim form to the Claims Administrator. Either the on-line form must be submitted or the paper form must be postmarked within 90 days after final approval and judgment, which is expected to be March 9, 2009 (90 days after the final approval hearing currently scheduled for December 8, 2008) or your claim will be rejected. Follow the steps below to make claim for a Refund or Subscription Claim Refund.
Step 1 – Identify Unauthorized Third party Mobile Content Billed and Paid for By You. Identify third party mobile content charges that were billed by AT&T Mobility from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008. This information is located on your AT&T Mobility wireless bill. The claim form will ask you to specifically identify the third party mobile content charges that you seek to have refunded.
Step 2 – Complete a Claim Form. You must complete all information requested in the claim form and verify that the charges are unauthorized as well as the accuracy of the information provided in the claim form. Claim forms that are incomplete or are not signed will be rejected.
Step 3 – Submit On-Line Form or Mail Paper Form to Claims Administrator. Submit the completed on-line claim form following the instructions for submission or mail the completed claim form to the claims administrator.
What Happens After a Claim Form is Filed?
Upon receipt, the Claims Administrator will review your claim form and determine whether you have eligible charges and are a member of the Settlement Class. If your claim is approved, the Claims Administrator will mail you a cash refund check via first-class mail or instruct AT&T Mobility to credit the proper amount to your account. You will then be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court and your claims against AT&T Mobility and other entities, including VeriSign, Inc., M-Qube, Inc., Jamster International SARL, and Mblox, Inc., for the conduct alleged in these actions will be resolved and released. If your claim is rejected by the Claims Administrator or challenged by AT&T Mobility, you will be notified of the reasons for the denial or challenge. If your initial claim is denied, you will be given the opportunity to appeal this decision. A full explanation of this process is set out in the Settlement Agreement.
The Claims Administrator may consider numerous factors in its review of your claim, which are fully set out in the Settlement Agreement.
How Not to Participate in the Settlement Class?
If you do not wish to be a member of the Settlement Class, you may exclude yourself by writing to the Claims Administrator. You must provide your full name and address, state that you want to opt out of the AT&T Mobility settlement, and deliver your request by mail, hand, or overnight delivery service to the Claims Administrator, at PO Box 509, Minneapolis, MN 55440-0509. Your request must be postmarked no later than November 3, 2008.
How Do I Object to the Settlement?
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing to determine if the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and to consider a motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses on December 8, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 9J, Superior Court of Georgia, Fulton County, Fulton County Courthouse, 136 Pryor Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303. If you remain a member of the Settlement class you or your counsel have the right to appear before the Court and object to the Settlement. However, you must file a Notice of Intention to Appear and Object. All objections must be filed by November 3, 2008. You must (1) provide your full name and address; (2) include all arguments, citations, and evidence supporting your objection; (3) specify who, if anyone, will attend the hearing to speak for your objection; (4) deliver your objection by mail, hand, or overnight delivery service to the Claims Administrator to the address listed above; and (5) file a copy of your objection with the Clerk of Court.
If I Remain in the Settlement Class, Who Represents Me?
The Court has approved the following team of attorneys to represent the Settlement Class. They are called “Class Counsel.” You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
Lead Class Counsel:
Jay Edelson Scott A. Kamber
Myles McGuire KamberEdelson LLC
KamberEdelsonLLC 11 Broadway, 22nd Fl
53 W. Jackson Blvd. New York, NY 10004
Suite 550 Tel: 1-877-465-1817
Chicago, IL 60604
David W. Boone
William S. Stone
Boone & Stone
3166 Mathieson Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30305
Plaintiff’s Steering Committee:
Robert Shelquist (Chairman)
Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP
100 Washington Avenue, Suite 2200
South Minneapolis, MN 55401-2197
Giskan, Solotaroff, Anderson & Stewart
11 Broadway, Suite 2150
New York, NY 10004
Law Offices of David P. Healey
2846-B Remington Green Cir
Tallahassee, FL 32308
John G. Jacobs
The Jacobs Law Firm, Chtd.
122 South Michigan Ave., Suite 1850
Chicago, IL 60603
What is the Plaintiff’s Attorneys’ Fees Award?
The Court has appointed a team of 10 attorneys involved in 16 related class actions to represent the Plaintiffs (“Class Counsel”) against AT&T Mobility and/or other entities including VeriSign, Inc., M-Qube, Inc., Jamster International SARL, and Mblox, Inc., and will request approval of the Court for attorney’s fees and costs of up to $4.3 Million. If approved by the Court, this amount will be paid directly by AT&T Mobility to Class Counsel and will not reduce any benefit to you from the settlement.
What is the Award To Class Representatives?
The Court has appointed Tracie McFerren, Morris Fiddler and Kristen Hensley as Class Representatives, who along with additional named Plaintiffs in the related cases, will share $10,000 for their service as class representatives. If approved by the Court, this amount will be paid directly by AT&T Mobility to the Class Representatives and will not reduce the benefit to you from the settlement.
Who Is Paying the Costs Associated with the Settlement?
Costs associated with the notice and administration of this settlement will be paid by AT&T Mobility.
What Claims Are Being Released in this Settlement?
Unless you exclude yourself from the settlement, you will be part of the Settlement Class. By staying in the Settlement Class, all of the Court’s orders will apply to you, and you will give AT&T Mobility, VeriSign, Inc, M-Qube, Inc., Jamster International SARL, and Mblox, Inc. and all of their affiliated companies and their predecessors and successors (the “Released Parties”), a “release” for certain claims arising from or relating to the unauthorized mobile content which you have been billed for from the beginning of time until the Effective Date of the Settlement Agreement. A release means you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against the Released Parties about the claims or issues in this Lawsuit ever again. To read the full release, see the Settlement Agreement.
What Is Class Counsel’s Opinion Of The Settlement?
As part of this litigation, the Court approved and appointed Class Counsel who have conducted investigation into the factual and legal claims of the Settlement Class members and the defenses that might be asserted against those claims. Class counsel completed a five-day mediation before Rodney Max, Esquire, of the Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation Group, who in his capacity as neutral mediator expressed his views about the case and the settlement. Based on their investigation and this process, Class Counsel believes that the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and in the best interests of the Settlement Class. Class Counsel and Plaintiff also recognize the expense and length of continued proceedings necessary to continue to prosecute this case through verdict, judgment and appeals and have taken into account the uncertainty and the risk of the outcome of continued litigation, especially in complex actions such as these as well as the difficulties and delays inherent in such actions.
When Will the Court Determine the Fairness of the Settlement?
A hearing will be held on the fairness of the proposed settlement. At the hearing, the Court will be available to hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the proposed settlement, including the amount of the award to Plaintiffs’ counsel for costs and attorney’s fees. The Court will hold the Fairness Hearing on December 8, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 9J, Superior Court of Georgia, Fulton County, Fulton County Courthouse, 136 Pryor Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO ATTEND THIS HEARING UNLESS YOU PLAN TO OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT.
If the settlement is not approved, the case will proceed as if no settlement had been attempted. There can be no assurance that if the settlement is not approved, the Settlement Class will recover more than is provided in the settlement, or indeed, anything.
May I Contact AT&T Mobility Directly?
Class Members are always able to call customer service to discuss third party mobile content charges made to their accounts. Calling customer service will not prohibit a Class Member from participating in the claims process.
Where Can I Obtain More Information?
Any questions you or your attorney may have concerning this notice should be directed to Class Counsel at the address listed above, or you can contact the Claims Administrator at PO Box 509, Minneapolis, MN 55440-0509, or via telephone at 1-877-465-4797, or through email at ClaimsAdministrator@ThirdPartyContentRefund.com Please include the case name and number, and your name and your current return address on any letters, not just the envelopes. You may also contact Lead Class Counsel at 1-877-465-1817. You may also read the Settlement Agreement by downloading it from this site or by requesting a copy from the Claims Administrator.
Please do not contact the Court Clerk or the Defendant’s Attorneys as they are not in a position to give you any advice about this settlement.
By Order of the Court Dated: May 30, 2008
SUPERIOR COURT OF FULTON COUNTY,
STATE OF GEORGIA
Questions? Call 1-877-465-4797