July 22, 2002
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
GENERAL FILES BRIEF TO ENSURE
AT&T COMPLIES WITH STATE CONSUMER LAWS
Ability to Protect Long-Distance Customers' Rights at Issue in Appeal
of AT&T v. Ting
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today filed an amicus curiae brief
on behalf of 27 states and Puerto Rico in a case on appeal before
the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief, in the matter
of a federal court case, AT&T v. Ting, makes the argument
that AT&T must comply with state contract and consumer protection
laws. In the case, AT&T has argued that the Federal Communications
Act preempts state contract and consumer protection laws, so the
company should not have to comply with those laws in its long-distance
customer service contracts.
believe that, in this newly deregulated market, consumers must have
access to the protections provided by state contract and consumer
protection laws," Curran said.
AT&T v. Ting began as a class action that was filed in
federal district court in California. The plaintiffs claimed that
several of the provisions of AT&T's service agreement violated
California consumer protections and contract laws. Some of those
provisions were a waiver of consumer rights, limits to AT&T's
liability, and an arbitration provision. The district court found
for the plaintiffs on most of the issues. At the district court
level, and again on appeal, AT&T has argued that it does not
have to comply with state laws.
to the brief: "This case is about AT&T's attempt to have
the best of two worlds: the freedom of a deregulated market and
the protections afforded carriers in a tariffed system, including
the right to unilaterally limit contractual rights and remedies
of its customers."
Maryland in the amicus brief are Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware,
Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah,
Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.