As reported by Law360 (subscription), late on February 20, 2020, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that blocked AT&T from contesting a decision banning the company from forcing customers into private arbitration over claims AT&T falsely advertised unlimited cellphone data plans.
In an unpublished opinion, the panel left in force a California court decision granting the proposed class of consumers the option to avoid arbitration when pursuing their claims after a separate state supreme court ruling set a precedent in their favor.
“We hold that AT&T’s arbitration agreement is unenforceable. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s order denying AT&T’s motion to compel arbitration,” the memorandum opinion said.
The lawsuit stems from a consumer class action originally filed in 2015 alleging that AT&T falsely advertised that its “unlimited” mobile phone plans provide “unlimited” data, while purposefully failing to disclose that it regularly “throttled” (i.e., intentionally slowed) customers’ data speed once they reached certain preset data usage thresholds.
The suit also challenged AT&T’s attempts to force consumers into private non-class arbitration, claiming that AT&T’s arbitration clause in its Wireless Customer Agreement violated consumers’ fundamental constitutional First Amendment right to petition courts for a public redress of grievances.