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Case Name Judd v. AT&T PC-WA-0015
Docket / Court 00-2-17565-5 SEA ( State Court )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Plaintiffs brought this suit in the Superior Court of Washington for King County, in 2000, against six telephone service provider companies. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, were recipients of collect intrastate and interstate telephone calls from prisoners in the State of ... read more >
Plaintiffs brought this suit in the Superior Court of Washington for King County, in 2000, against six telephone service provider companies. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, were recipients of collect intrastate and interstate telephone calls from prisoners in the State of Washington's prisons, where the six telephone companies provided "0+" operator-assisted service to prisoners wishing to call non-prisoners. The prisoners had no other telephone service available to them, nor could the recipients call into the prisons to speak to prisoners. According to their complaint, the recipients of these calls were not advised by the companies of the rates for these calls nor had the companies advised the appropriate state regulatory commission of the rates for the calls (except for post-November 1999, limited advisement as to interstate rates, only). The defendants' conduct was alleged to constitute per se unfair or deceptive trade practices under state law. Plaintiffs sought damages, including treble damages for each instance of violation for each member of the plaintiff class, and injunctive relief to preclude further violations of state law requiring telephone rate disclosures, citing violation of the state of Washington's Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiffs defined the class they sought to represent as all persons who had received a collect call from any prisoner in Washington's state prisons since June 20, 1996, except for those individuals who received only interstate collect calls after November 1999, and to whom timely disclosure of rates was offered.

On November 8, 2000, King County Superior Court Judge J. Kathleen Learned ordered several issues of law and fact to be considered by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission through a "primary jurisdiction referral." At that administrative agency, the defendant telephone companies argued that the case should be dismissed as the complainants lacked standing, being unable to show personal harm from any conduct, given that the calls from prison were carried by two other telephone companies who had exemptions from the rule requiring rate disclosure, whereas the defendant companies provided only a connection (i.e., operator service) which did not trigger an obligation to disclose rates. The administrative law judge denied the motions to dismiss, saying that the issue of standing was not within the referral from the Superior Court and that only the referred issues could be addressed, according to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction (under which the court retained jurisdiction over all non-referred issues).

A telephone company-defendant returned to the King County Superior Court and filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the plaintiffs lacked standing. In orders dated September, 7, 2005, and October 4, 2005, King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey M. Ramsdell granted the summary judgment motion and found the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring claims against the two telephone companies that remained in the lawsuit as defendants. On October 17, 2005, Judge Ramsdell rescinded the primary jurisdiction referral to the state's administrative agency. That agency, in turn, ruled on October 28, 2005, that as the court had dismissed the complaint for the plaintiffs' lack of standing and had rescinded the primary jurisdiction referral to the agency, the agency no longer had any basis upon which it could justify jurisdiction. Accordingly, it dismissed the administrative proceedings at the request of one of the telephone companies.

Plaintiffs appealed, and on December 18, 2006, in an unpublished opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the plaintiffs "presented one disputed issue of material fact and one mixed question of fact and law which survive summary judgment." The disputed fact issue was whether the alleged telephone calls actually occurred, and the open question of law was whether the carriers were required to disclose rate information. Judd v. AT&T, 2006 Wash. App. LEXIS 2741.

Earlier decisions in the case include Judd v. AT&T, 66 P.3d 1102 (2003) and Judd v. AT&T, 152 Wn.2nd 195 (WA 2004).

As summarized by Prison Legal News, "after more than a decade of litigation before the state superior, appellate and supreme courts, and before the state utilities commission, the case boiled down to T-Netix and AT&T arguing over which company was responsible for providing notice to the call recipients. On April 21, 2010, the utilities commission held it was AT&T." The commission also concluded that AT&T violated the disclosure regulations. AT&T and T-Netix sought judicial review of the commission's decision in the Thurston County Superior Court, which confirmed that AT&T was an operator service provider but reversed and remanded the question whether AT&T and T-Netix violated disclosure regulations, back to the commission. On February 12, 2012, AT&T filed a motion in the King County Superior Court to terminate and withdraw the Court's primary jurisdiction referral to the commission. The motion was granted, and the remaining issue of whether AT&T and T-Netix violated the rate disclosure regulations was to be decided by the King County Superior Court.

On June 21, 2013, claims against AT&T were resolved through a settlement agreement for $45 million. After payment of claims submitted by class members, attorney's fees, case contribution awards, and expenses, a residual fund of about $20 million was expected to be available for cy pres distributions. At least 25% of that amount was to be awarded to the Legal Foundation of Washington, with the remaining amount to be awarded to the Legal Foundation or other designees who met the criteria of CR 23(f)(2).

Mike Fagan - 05/05/2008
David Cho - 12/28/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Phone
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) AT&T Communications of the Pacific Northwest, Inc.
Plaintiff Description All individuals who have received or will receive one or more long-distance collect calls from one or more Washington State prison inmates since June 20, 1996.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2013 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Case Listing PC-DC-0019 : Wright v. Corrections Corporation of America (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0027 : In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services / Wright Petition I (No Court)
PC-DC-0028 : In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services / Wright Petition II (No Court)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
00-2-17565-5 SEA (district not recorded) 02/27/2012
PC-WA-0015-9002 PDF | Detail
00-2-17565-5 (State Trial Court) 10/30/2014
PC-WA-0015-9001 PDF | Detail
State Court Website
General Documents
First Amended Complaint - Class Action 08/01/2000
PC-WA-0015-0002 PDF | Detail
Protective Order 03/18/2005
PC-WA-0015-0003 PDF | Detail
Order Denying T-Netix’s Motions for Summary Determination and to Stay Discovery [] 07/18/2005
PC-WA-0015-0001 PDF | Detail
Order Granting T-Netix's Motion to Dismiss; Dismissing Complainants' Action 10/28/2005
PC-WA-0015-0004 PDF | Detail
Utilities and Transport Commission Case Summary 02/24/2012
PC-WA-0015-0006 PDF | Detail
Settlement Agreement 01/22/2013
PC-WA-0015-0005 PDF | Detail
Order Setting Hearing Schedule to Consider Requests for Cy Pres Awards 06/26/2013
PC-WA-0015-0007 PDF | Detail
Judges Infante, Edward A. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-WA-0015-0005
Rendahl, Ann E. (State Trial Court)
PC-WA-0015-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gryphon, Marie E. (Washington)
PC-WA-0015-0002
Meier, Jonathon P. (Washington)
PC-WA-0015-0002
Youtz, Chris R. (Washington)
PC-WA-0015-0002 | PC-WA-0015-0005
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers Andrus, Beth M. (Washington)
PC-WA-0015-0007
Douglas, Robert A. (Ohio)
PC-WA-0015-0005

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