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For Immediate Release
July 22, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES BRIEF TO ENSURE
AT&T COMPLIES WITH STATE CONSUMER LAWS

States' Ability to Protect Long-Distance Customers' Rights at Issue in Appeal of AT&T v. Ting

Attorney 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.

"We 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.

According 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."

Joining 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.

 

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