October 01, 2021

Three companies accused of colluding to inflate the cost of calls made from inside U.S. prisons will still face antitrust claims after a Maryland federal judge decided that the racketeering claims of prisoners' families fell apart.

U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby dismissed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — better known as RICO — claims Thursday in an 18-page opinion that ultimately found the suit's antitrust claims were strong enough to proceed.

"In sum, when read in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the court is satisfied that the complaint contains plausible Sherman Antitrust Act claims that plaintiffs should be allowed to further develop through the discovery process," Judge Griggsby said.

The judge said she wasn't going to be dismissing the antitrust claims because the proposed class — which seeks to represent friends and family members of incarcerated people who pay for collect calls from prisons across the country — does properly and plausibly allege an agreement between the companies it's suing to fix the price of calls.

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The family members of prisoners and the proposed class are represented by Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Justice Catalyst Law Inc., the Human Rights Defense Center and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

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