Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Why was the Notice issued?

    The Court authorized the Notice to explain that the Court has allowed, or “certified,” a class action lawsuit that may affect you. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise before the Court holds a trial. The trial is to decide whether the claims being made against Defendant, on your behalf, are correct. Judge George Caram Steeh of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as Rose Coulter-Owens v. Time Inc., Case No. 2:12-cv-14390-GCS-MKM.

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  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    This lawsuit claims that Defendant disclosed, without permission, personal information about its subscribers–including full names, addresses, and magazine subscription titles–to certain third parties. The Plaintiff claims the disclosure of this information violated Michigan’s Video Rental Privacy Act, M.C.L. §§ 445.1711-15 (“VRPA”). The Michigan VRPA prohibits the disclosure of customers’ reading choices, among other things, and allows for recovery of actual damages or statutory damages in the amount of $5,000. The Defendant denies it violated any law.

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  3. What is a class action and who is involved?

    In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this case, Rose Coulter-Owens) sue on behalf of a group of people who have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The individual who sues—and all the Class Members like her—are called the Plaintiffs. The company they sue (in this case, Time) is called the Defendant. In a class action, the Court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.

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  4. Why is this lawsuit a class action?

    The Court decided that this lawsuit can be a class action and move towards a trial because it meets the requirements of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts. Specifically, the Court found that:

    • There are a significant number of consumers who, between 2009 and 2013, purchased subscriptions to one of Defendant’s magazines through a third party on the internet;
    • There are legal questions and facts that are common to each of them;
    • Rose Coulter-Owens’ claims are typical of the claims of the rest of the Class;
    • Ms. Coulter-Owens, and the lawyers from Edelson PC representing the Class, will fairly and adequately represent the Class’s interests;
    • The common legal questions and facts outweigh questions that affect only individuals; and
    • This class action will be more efficient than having many individual lawsuits.

    More information about why the Court is allowing this lawsuit to be a class action is in the Court’s Order Re: Class Certification, which is available here.

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  5. What does the lawsuit complain about?

    This lawsuit claims that Defendant disclosed personal information about its subscribers – including their full names, addresses, and titles of magazines to which they subscribed – to third parties without permission. The Plaintiff claims the disclosure of this information violated Michigan’s Video Rental Privacy Act, M.C.L. §§ 445.1711-15 (“VRPA”). The Michigan VRPA prohibits the disclosure of customers’ reading choices, among other things, and allows for recovery of actual damages or statutory damages in the amount of $5,000. The Defendant denies it violated any law. You can read a copy of the Plaintiff’s First Amended Class Action Complaint here.

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  6. How do Defendants answer?

    Defendant denies that did anything wrong or violated any law. You can read Defendant’s answers to Plaintiff’s First Amended Class Action Complaint here.

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  7. Has the Court decided who is right?

    The Court hasn’t decided whether the Plaintiff or Defendant is correct. By establishing the Class and issuing this Notice, the Court is not suggesting that the Plaintiff will win or lose this case. The Plaintiff must prove her claims at a trial (see FAQ 18 below).

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  8. What is the Plaintiff asking for?

    The Plaintiff is asking the Court to award each Class Member statutory damages of $5,000 to each subscriber whose record or information was disclosed in violation of Michigan’s Video Rental Privacy Act.

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  9. Is there any money available now?

    No money or benefits are available now because the Court has not decided whether Defendant did anything wrong, and the two sides have not settled the case. There is no guarantee that money or benefits ever will be obtained. If they are, you will be notified about how to ask for a share.

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  10. Am I part of the Class?

    The Court decided that the Class includes:

    All Michigan residents who, between March 31, 2009 and November 15, 2013, purchased a subscription to TIME, Fortune, or Real Simple magazines through any website other than Time.com, Fortune.com, and RealSimple.com.

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  11. I’m still not sure if I am included.

    If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can write to the administrator at Michigan Magazine Class Action Administrator c/o Epiq Systems Class Action Services & Mass Tort Solutions P.O. Box 3770 Portland, OR 97208-3770 and ask if your name and address appears on the list of potential Class Members. You may have to provide the Class Action Administrator additional information, including proof of purchase, to verify your inclusion in the class. Or you can get free help by calling the lawyers in this case at the phone number listed in FAQ 21.

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  12. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    By doing nothing, you are staying in the Class. If you stay in the Class and Plaintiff obtains money or benefits, either as a result of any trial or settlement, you will be notified about how to apply for a share (or how to ask to be excluded from any settlement). Keep in mind that if you do nothing now, regardless of whether Plaintiff wins or loses the legal motions or trial, you will not be able to separately sue, or continue to separately sue, Defendant—as part of any other lawsuit—about the same legal claims that are the subject of this lawsuit. You will also be legally bound by all of the Orders the Court issues and judgments the Court makes in this class action.

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  13. Why would I ask to be excluded?

    If you have already filed your own lawsuit against Defendant for the same disclosure of personal information, during the same time period, and want to continue with it, you need to ask to be excluded from the Class. If you exclude yourself from the Class—which also means to remove yourself from the Class, and is sometimes called “opting-out” of the Class—you won’t get any money or benefits from this lawsuit if any are awarded or obtained as a result of the trial or from any settlement (that may or may not be reached) between Defendant and Plaintiff. However, you will be able to separately start your own lawsuit against, or continue to separately sue, Defendant for the disclosure of personal information at issue in this case. If you exclude yourself, you will not be legally bound by the Court’s judgments in this class action.

    If you start your own lawsuit against Defendant after you exclude yourself, you’ll have to hire and pay your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you’ll have to prove your claims.

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  14. How do I ask the Court to exclude me from the Class?

    To exclude yourself from the Class, you must mail or otherwise deliver a letter (or request for exclusion) stating that you want to be excluded from Rose Coulter-Owens v. Time Inc., Case No. 2:12-cv-14390-GCS-MKM. Your letter or request for exclusion must include your name and address, the magazine title you subscribed to, and your signature. You must mail your exclusion request no later than December 9, 2015 to:

    Michigan Magazine Class Action Administrator
    c/o Epiq Systems Class Action Services & Mass Tort Solutions
    PO Box 3770
    Portland, OR 97208-3770

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  15. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

    The Court has appointed Ari J. Scharg of Edelson PC as the attorney to represent the Class. He is called “Class Counsel,” and is experienced in handling similar class action cases. More information about this lawyer and the Edelson PC law firm is available at www.Edelson.com.

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  16. Should I get my own lawyer?

    You do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. But, if you want your own lawyer, you will have to pay that lawyer. For example, you can ask him or her to appear in Court for you if you want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you.

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  17. How will the lawyers be paid?

    If Class Counsel obtains money or benefits for the Class, he may ask the Court for fees and expenses. You won’t have to pay these fees and expenses. If the Court grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees and expenses would be either deducted from any money obtained for the Class or paid separately by Defendant.

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  18. How and when will the Court decide who is right?

    As long as the case isn’t decided through legal motions or settled, Class Counsel will have to prove the Plaintiff’s claims at a trial. The trial date will be set by the Court, and once scheduled, will be held in the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48226 in Courtroom 236. Any trial may be rescheduled without further notice to you. During the trial, a jury or the Judge will hear all of the evidence to help them reach a decision about whether the Plaintiff or Defendant is right about the claims in the lawsuit. There is no guarantee that Plaintiff will win or that she will get any money for the Class.

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  19. Do I have to come to the trial?

    You do not need to attend the trial. Class Counsel will present the case for Plaintiff, and Defendant will present its defenses. You or your own lawyer are welcome to come at your own expense.

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  20. Will I get money after the trial?

    If Plaintiff obtains money or benefits as a result of the trial or a settlement, you will be notified about how to apply for a share or what your other options are at that time. Currently, we do not know if any benefits will be available or how long this process will take.

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  21. Where do I get more information?

    This website contains several Court Documents that contain additional information about the case, which can be viewed here. It will be updated with the most current information about the lawsuit as it becomes available. You may also write with questions to Michigan Magazine Class Action Administrator, c/o Epiq Systems, Class Action Services & Mass Tort Solutions, P.O. Box 3770, Portland, OR 97208-3770, or you may call Class Counsel at 1-866-354-3015. Before doing so, however, please read the full Notice carefully.

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