As reported by Law360 (subscription), on March 27, 2020, two major banking associations filed an amicus brief on behalf of Comcast Corp. and AT&T Mobility LLC’s in the United States Supreme Court supporting efforts by the companies to challenge a California rule that limits corporations’ abilities to enforce arbitration agreements.
As Law360 notes, The American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association, which together represent the multitrillion-dollar U.S. banking industry, argued that the so-called McGill rule, which went into effect in 2017, “eviscerates both the letter and spirit” of the Federal Arbitration Act.
The lawsuit stems from a consumer class action originally filed by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel 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. Comcast and AT&T are challenging a Ninth Circuit ruling in plaintiffs’ favor that upheld California’s McGill rule precluding the companies from forcing consumers into private, non-class arbitration paid for by defendants, held out of the public eye, and statistically highly unfavorable to anyone challenging the defendants’ practices and policies. The rule worked to invalidate contract provisions that barred customers of the telecommunication companies from seeking collective relief. In opposition, Comcast has argued that the McGill rule sidesteps the Federal Arbitration Act by making arbitration clauses unenforceable.
Now with this “friend of the court” brief, the banking industry joins the corporate charge attacking the Ninth Circuit’s ruling and attempting to eviscerate consumer’s rights against corporate malfeasance.
The consumers in the federal class action against AT&T and Comcast are represented by Lieff Cabraser attorneys Michael W. Sobol, Roger N. Heller, Sarah R. London and Avery S. Halfon. Learn more about the AT&T Smartphone Unlimited Data case here.