Attorneys in a seven year-old class action case that stemmed from previous litigation over telephone overcharges will walk away from the case with $7 million in fees.

Attorneys Timothy Londrigan, Terrence O'Leary, Glenn Bradford and Mary Lee Leahy netted the class more than $21 million in a settlement that got the initial go-ahead Tuesday.

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack signed off on the preliminary approval of the settlement between the class led by lead plaintiff Big Sky Excavating Company and AT&T in a seven-page March 23 order.

Big Sky led a class of small business against AT&T (also known as Illinois Bell Telephone Company) and Ameritech Corp. for allegedly giving out improper refunds to some companies the defendants allegedly over-charged.

AT&T was mandated to refund overcharges to its business customers with multiple lines by state law in 2001. AT&T was to pay out $90 million in refunds.

Big Sky filed suit in 2003.

Former Madison County Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis oversaw the case at that time and declared the refunds unconstitutional.

The Illinois State Supreme Court eventually reversed Kardis and sent the case back to Edwardsville.

The Madison County Court granted a move by the plaintiff class in February 2009 that sought summary judgment. It found that AT&T had improperly paid out refunds to recipients who weren't supposed to receive them.

In a Nov. 10, 2009 order, the court found that the plaintiff class was entitled to an added $21.20 per telephone line, bringing the total to $21,67,857.

The settlement amount approved March 23 is the same as the one ordered in November last year, according to the motion for preliminary settlement approval.

The class representatives, Big Sky and Theis Law Firm, will each receive $10,000.

AT&T will also pay all costs of administering the settlement.

Attorneys pushed off a hearing in February to work on the settlement.

AT&T had filed a post-judgment motion and had appeals pending. The proposed settlement asks the court to defer ruling on the motion and to stay the appeals.

AT&T continues to deny all liability to the plaintiffs and class, according to the motion.

Stack's March 23 order grants the initial go ahead to the settlement.

The final settlement approval hearing is set for July 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Class members may opt out of the settlement until June 23.

Londrigan is with Londrigan, Potter & Randle P.C. of Springfield.

Leahy is with Leahy Law Firm of Springfield.

O'Leary is with Bosslet & O'Leary, Ltd. in Granite City.

Bradford is with Barberis and Bradford in Edwardsville.

Theodore Livingston of Chicago, Elaine Rappaport Lev of Chicago and John Papa of Granite City represented the defendants.

Livingston is with the firm of Mayer Brown LLP.

Papa is part of Callis, Papa, Hale, Szewczyk & Danzinger P.C.

Rappaport Lev is with AT&T Services Inc.

The case is Madison case number 03-L-715.

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