Fair-use excerpts from an article in the August 19 Newsweek...
It's a great deal if you're one of the lawyers, not very good if you're a customer. In fact, the only AOL customer likely to significantly benefit is Stephen Hagen, who is not only the lead plaintiff but also one of the lead lawyers. Under the proposed settlement, the lawyers get $2.75 million of cash for fees and expenses...
As for AOL's customers, current users get an hour of free time, valued at an absurdly high price of $2.95.
AOL has to be hoping the settlement will be accepted by the judge ruling on the case next month. Not only does it cost AOL almost no cash, but it allows the company to continue many of the practices that produced the complaint--such as charging an extra 15 seconds per call for connection time and charging for up to three days after a subscription is cancelled. The only new requirement is that AOL clearly disclose those practices to users, which the company says it has already done...
But one of the plaintiffs, James Croak, is opposing the settlement, as is his lawyer. Some anti-AOL types are using cyberspace bulletin boards to try to rally users to oppose it, as well. If enough users opt out--I don't know how many; the number's not disclosed--the settlement will be voided.
...this much is clear: by collecting his piece of a fat legal fee, attorney Hagen disproved the adage that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.
Current and former subscribers of AOL
are signing off their rights in a
backroom deal brokered by eleven law firms.
Boardwatch opposes it
Robert Seidman opposes it
Analysis of the proposed settlement