A class action suit against AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse service has no legs because the plaintiffs agreed to arbitration, not legal action, in the event they were dissatisfied with service, the Supreme Court affirmed Monday.
The court declined to hear arguments in the class action suit and effectively dismissed arguments by four plaintiffs who said they had been denied a fair jury trial, according to an article in Law360. The high court agreed with two lower court rulings that affirmed AT&T's claims that "the plaintiffs all agreed to the arbitration clause at the time of purchase via a so-called pop-up clickwrap agreement, which requires users to click a button saying they agree with the terms of service before continuing their transaction," the legal publication's story continued.
The class action suit represented two million U-verse high bitrate DSL technology users. It claimed "breach of contract, fraud and other violations" based on "systematic defects that result in slow connections, service interruptions, failed phone connectivity, freezing of movies or high definition channels and an inability to watch different shows on different TVs," the story said.
In an August 2010 complaint in the Western District of Oklahoma, the plaintiffs said the poor service showed "an intentional and willful decision by AT&T to sacrifice quality for greater profits" and that the company had "intentionally scrimped on the system's underlying infrastructure," the Law360 piece said.
That original claim was dismissed by an Oklahoma judge based on arbitration clauses within the AT&T contract that said, essentially, consumers could not sue the company but had to submit to arbitration in these types of complaints. A Tenth Circuit appeals court agreed and the case went to the Supreme Court which also agreed, effectively ending the matter.
When asked for AT&T's reaction to the court decision, AT&T spokeswoman Kuriko Hasegawa told FierceIPTV, "We're pleased with the Court's decision, as we believed the petition and the underlying claims were without merit."
- Law 360 carried this story (sub. req.)
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