After Supreme Court win forcing customers to arbitrate, AT&T now sues to stop arbitration

Posted on: August 26th, 2011 by Steve Larson

Victorious a few months ago before the U.S. Supreme Court in the AT&T v. Concepcion case we earlier discussed on this blog, in which the court held customers were required by their phone contracts to arbitrate claims rather than sue, AT&T is now trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

The telecommunications giant has filed suit in eight federal courts throughout the country, seeking to block customer arbitrations that seek to prevent a potential merger with T-Mobile.

The litigation targets two plaintiffs’ firms, Bursor & Fisher and Faruqi & Faruqi, that have mounted a “Fight the Merger” campaign. The firms have lined up 1,000 or so potential arbitration claims by AT&T customers.

AT&T maintains that the Supreme Court decision in AT&T v. Concepcion only applies to individual issues and that the arbitrators have no authority to block a merger.  However, customers have a right to challenge anticompetitive conduct.

Attorney Scott Bursor, who represents a number of arbitration plaintiffs in the “Fight the Merger” campaign, characterized the company’s case against arbitration as “frivolous” and said the American Arbitration Association is proceeding with the individual arbitration claims despite AT&T’s objections.