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Lawyers trying to overturn Class action ban by AT&T Wireless

Discussion in 'Wireless News' started by Fire14, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. Fire14

    Fire14 Easy,Cheap & Sleazy
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    Lawyers Seek to Overturn AT&T Wireless Ban on Class-Action Litigation

    Lawyers representing AT&T and Cingular customers are seeking to overturn a ban on the customers joining forces to pursue a class-action style lawsuit against the company. Customers of the mobile operator, when signing their cellphone contract also agree that any dispute has to be argued individually and that they cannot "pool" their complaints with other customers.

    The dispute follows the acquisition of AT&T by Cingular Wireless - later rebranded back as AT&T, where the lawyers argue that the company deliberatly downgraded the older AT&T TDMA network to force customers onto the GSM platform.

    "At stake here is the right of AT&T customers to get a fair hearing and obtain justice," said Harvey Rosenfield, a lawyer with the non-profit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "If the court rules that AT&T and Cingular's customers cannot join together to sue these companies, then the companies will never be held accountable."

    According to the lawsuit filed in July 2006, after the merger, Cingular deliberately degraded the quality of the AT&T network in order to force AT&T customers to move to Cingular's network, pay an $18 "upgrade fee," buy brand new phones and sign up for new two year plans. Dissatisfied consumers who wanted to move to a different company were required to pay Early Termination Fees of $150 or more.

    After the suit was filed, AT&T asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that all AT&T customers had agreed as a condition of obtaining service that any disputes had to be handled on an individual, one-on-one basis by private arbitration firms paid for by AT&T. While AT&T has made various changes to its arbitration clause over the past few years, the critical ban on class actions has remained unchanged.

    In their opposition to individual arbitration filed on Friday, lawyers for AT&T's customers said that the class action ban was unlawful under state contract law because it would effectively prevent customers from obtaining justice. They also pointed out that numerous courts have invalidated AT&T's (and other cell phone companies') class action bans on the same grounds.

    "AT&T makes much of the window-dressing terms it has tacked on to its arbitration clause to hide the impact of its class action ban," said Leslie Bailey of Public Justice. "But we're confident that once the court looks at all the evidence, it will recognize that without a class action, these customers would not be able to hold the company accountable." Public Justice represents the plaintiffs along with FTCR and a team of nationally recognized lawyers that includes Bruce Simon of the California-based Pearson, Simon, Soter, Warshaw & Penny firm and Paul Stritmatter of the Washington-based firm of Stritmatter, Kessler, Whelan and Coluccio.

    Lawyers Seek to Overturn AT&T Wireless Ban on Class-Action Litigation
     
  2. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    Well class action happens no matter what is on the contract. As to degrading the TDMA, I can say they did so but as we all know, in their filling with FCC as part of the purchase of ATTW, Cingularhad to submit a plan on the doomsday scheduels for TDMA. So with this in mind, I think the courts might not get any where when the governmental body has put those terms.
     
  3. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    SInce class action suits are a huge gravy train for attornies, it is not surprising that attornies want to overturn this.
     
  4. M in LA

    M in LA Mobile 26 Years Plus
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    Nothin' like a lawyer trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip...
     
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