Commitment Precision & Results - Jacksonville, Florida

Florida courts uphold cable TV customer rights

Jacksonville Business Journal - August 12, 2005Florida cable TV subscriber''s rights got a boost when the Florida First District Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld a trial court decision against AT&T Broadband.The decision denied the cable giant the attempt to unilaterally change subscriber agreements by requiring customers to submit to binding arbitration. This ruling clears the way for the certification process in the class action suit filed against AT&T Broadband, purchased by Comcast in 2001.The class action suit was filed by the Jacksonville law firm of Spohrer Wilner Maxwell & Matthews on behalf of then-AT&T cable TV customers throughout Florida and Georgia for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud related to customer service and billing problems.Prior to the filing of the class action suit, AT&T had adopted the practice of sending out a fine print notice as an insert in customer bills that attempted to essentially eliminate subscriber''s rights against the cable company. In addition to eliminating the right to bring a claim in court, the provision shortened the statue of limitations, prohibited class actions, imposed a confidentiality agreement and prohibited punitive damages. This was a take-it-or-leave-it policy that gave consumers no option except to cancel service.After the class action suit was filed, AT&T petitioned the Fourth Circuit Court of Duval County to stop the suit based on the position that all customers were subject to binding arbitration and therefore had no right to participate in a class action suit. The judge dismissed the petition and his ruling has now been upheld.The local attorney heading the class action suit is Norwood "Woody" Wilner, who was part of the team that won a $14 billion award against the tobacco industry.

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