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AT&T Threatens Plaintiff With Termination Of Service Unless He Shuts Up (techcrunch.com)
93 points by dwynings on Mar 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments



The title is sensationalist and inaccurate. What AT&T is doing is trying to get out of their judgement, through negotiation, with the side-benefit that if he enters into said negotiation, it would happen under a NDA.

They're threatening to terminate his service because he tethered, and violated the TOS.

I think the clamant would be crazy to take them up on it, but that's another point entirely.


> I think the clamant would be crazy to take them up on it

Why? They may very well be offering him more money, just to get his signature on the NDA. I don't think AT&T is worried about <1K ... they'd much rather he shut up.


Would this mean that if anyone wants to get out of their AT&T contract instead of paying ridiculous fees, they simply need to tether their phone?


The TOS is not that clear to me, but there may be a possibility that you would have to pay the ETF even if AT&T terminates your contract.

http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/legal/index.j...


You think they are paying a fancy Newport Beach attorney in an attempt to get out of an $850 judgement? Seriously?


The fancy Newport Beach attorney gets paid the same regardless if he's chasing down this one guy or doing something else.


uh, no, lawyers bill their clients by the hour, they are not salaried.


Corporate lawyers are generally on retainer


A retainer is just a pre-payment for hourly pay. They draw against it. Any unused portion is returned to the client or saved for future hourly work.


What I meant was that this lawyer would be doing other work, for the same pay. If you want to go down the opportunity cost route, you could make the argument that this is some misguided (and frankly, hilarious) attempt to prevent news of being able to sue for this kind of thing out of the public eye. Hence the NDA.


Well, it could be an in-house attorney.


Opportunity cost of his time.


When they cancel his service, he should take them back to court for unjust discrimination on customer equipment, citing the Carterphone precedent. Sorry Ma Bell, the demarc is in the air, and anything past the baseband can't possibly harm the network.


I think there's no story there. If the platiff won the small claims case and the HE initiated further contact with AT&T on the matter then all bets are off and AT&T is entitled to respond as it pleases, even if it's a "we won't talk to you about this matter we just settled in court unless you sign an NDA"


"Your data usage demonstrates that you have tethered your wireless device..." How does data usage provide proof of tethering?


He also admitted to tethering according to the article.


How att even get away with this?

Case 1: judge recognizes att can control the content (tether vs non tether) then why can't i sue them if someone offends me on an email?

Case 2: they are a connection provider, so they have to allow you to use the connection in any way you can.

Analogy: could they legally have a phone plan like 20/mo unlimited calls 30/mo unlimited calls + 50 faxes


How about this title, "Man complaining because Time Warner won't let him steal neighbors cable"?

Seems just as inaccurate but at least captures the spirit.


Isn't this article ignoring the fact that a whole bunch of other customers could do the same thing and get a similar settlement?


We have a guide explaining how other customers can take AT&T to small claims court on our blog: http://blog.publikdemand.com/how-to-fight-att-in-small-claim...


You're thinking small. Organize a class-action with him as the lead defendant.


We totally would, but a class-action isn't possible under US law. The Supreme Court ruled for AT&T in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion:

"Under the Federal Arbitration Act, California must enforce arbitration agreements even if the agreement requires that consumer complaints be arbitrated individually (instead of on a class-action basis)." - http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/att-mobility-v-co...


Actually, class action lawsuits can be more easily dealt with, since the lawyers on both side negotiate the terms of the settlement.

A litany of small claims court settlements would put more money in the hands of plaintiffs, not lawyers, and would be available in the news cycle for much longer than a class action lawsuit/settlement.


'One random guy wins $850 in small claims court from AT&T' - you think that is newsworthy? I disagree. We wouldn't have been hearing about this had AT&T not tried to shut him up.

They will learn from this mistake. They just ran into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

The way to handle this if you are AT&T is to pay the $850 and then ignore anything else he does and wait for it to go away.


> We wouldn't have been hearing about this had AT&T not tried to shut him up.

We did year about it on the day the guy won his case. Yes, they are making more news out of a story they could have easily squashed, but it wasn't an unknown event that the guy won the initial case.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-01/at-and-t-los...

http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/24/2822384/att-loses-data-thr...

http://paidcontent.org/article/419-850-for-everyone-what-hap...

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/att-throttling-cust...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mickeymeece/2012/02/25/throttle-...


Right, but 10 different people winning $850 in small claims court from AT&T would be newsworthy. It might convince more people to follow in their footsteps.


You see my point exactly, if you could find 10 people in March, I'm sure April has 10 more. Or 100 more.


The recent Honda hybrid battery debacle, and the woman who decided to opt out of the class action, chose small claims instead and kept more small claims winnings than she would have received from the class action, shows that small claims can be the more effective route. Notwithstanding appeals.


Class-action lawsuit so the lawyers can get all the money? Also, class-action lawsuits are far more of a collective pain in the ass than just going to small claims by yourself.


A huge judgement against a company makes big news and makes a loud statement that the company did something bad. That is how you get them to change. Not by winning $850.

However perhaps if publikdemand is successful in driving media exposure though means such as this, it could have the same impact (or greater?).

Chipping away at them silently in small claims court isn't going to change their practices though.


If every potential class member shows up to small claims court instead of joining the class, it'll cause much more headache for T and send a much larger message. By bringing a class action, you let them hire lawyers and keep their entire defense in a single place and the plaintiffs get a pittance while the lawyers on both sides win the lottery.


"If every potential class member shows up to small claims court"

They wont though. Nowhere near every potential member.

That is why class actions for small amounts exist. Most people either wont know they can sue, wont know how to sue or wont bother to sue. I applaud this gentleman for his efforts but he is the very small minority with the free time, know-how and balls to pull this off.




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