AT&T Customers Get to Appeal Arbitration Ruling

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By Perry Cooper

June 28 — Unhappy AT&T Mobility LLC customers June 27 won the chance to file an immediate appeal of a court decision requiring them to arbitrate a dispute over the terms of their mobile phone service ( Roberts v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 2016 BL 205337, N.D. Cal., No. 15-3418, 6/27/16 ).

The customers filed a class action alleging that AT&T failed to disclose conditions limiting its “unlimited” wireless service plans.

In April, AT&T successfully moved to compel arbitration under the customers' service contracts. The district court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that enforcing the arbitration agreements violated their First Amendment right to petition a court for redress of their grievances.

The court found that the plaintiffs failed to show the requisite state action to support a First Amendment claim.

Take Two

But on second look, the district court found that the plaintiffs' arguments that a court's enforcement of a private agreement between private actors could constitute state action.

“There are novel and difficult questions that justify presenting them to the Court of Appeal for consideration on an interlocutory basis, especially as their resolution may materially advance ultimate termination of this litigation,” Judge Edward M. Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California wrote June 27.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit still has to agree to permit the appeal.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP and others represented the plaintiffs.

Mayer Brown LLP represented AT&T.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com and Jeffrey D. Koelemay at jkoelemay@bna.com

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