How can we start a class action lawsuit?

My daughter and I have dispute of monthly charges and initiation of service dates with AT&T. Our conversations with AT&T representatives regarding erroneous charges on my bills have not been resolve yet. We thought we did! According my records we agreed to pay $481.39 to settle the account. In the mail, we received periodically bills from AT&T charging different increments: $723.08, $741, $801 etc. This account should not be in collections. I am not sure what I supposed to pay or where I suppose to send the monies. I received a collections letter yesterday, Feb 25, 2013, charging me $1,446.55 ( AT&T $1,225.89 and AT&T Fee $220.66). I am disabled and on fixed income. Now my daughter credit is ruin! I do not know what to do. Please advise. Thank you for your assistance.

Vero Beach, FL -

Attorney Answers (4)

William J Mertens

William J Mertens

Litigation Lawyer - Bethesda, MD
Answered

It's not clear from your post whether a class action would be possible here or whether you can best help yourself or your daughter right now by worrying about class actions. Speaking broadly and generally, for there to be a class action, a number of different people have to be experiencing a common problem, and your post doesn't say that anyone but you and your daughter are having basically the same or a similar problem with AT&T or a debt collection firm. Maybe other people are; but if they aren't, then a class action isn't the best way to solve your individual problem. (I've added "debt collection" and "debt settlement" tags to your post; maybe that will help you.)

Is there a debt collection agency involved or are the dunning letters all coming from AT&T itself? Are credit reporting agencies reporting erroneous adverse information that is hurting your or your daughter's credit score? You have important rights under federal and possibly also state law in such a situation. (I am not licensed in FL and can't offer advice or opinions specifically on your state's laws.)

But you describe a complicated and (to me at least) confusing situation. If you are eligible for pro bono legal help, a local or state bar association may find a volunteer attorney to help sort things out. Such help is available in my own home state, Maryland. Or there may be a state or local government office to contact for help with consumer issues, possibly a unit of the state attorney general's office. If you can afford to hire an attorney, I recommend a consultation. Or a legitimate consumer assistance organization (be careful; some are scams), perhaps run by your county government, may help.

Eric Lechtzin

Eric Lechtzin

Class Action Attorney - Philadelphia, PA
Answered

You may not be able to bring a class action against AT&T if your contract with AT&T contains an arbitration clause. And it probably does.

AT&T was the appellant in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, (2011), in which the Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 preempts state laws that prohibit contracts from disallowing class-wide arbitration, such as the law previously upheld by the California Supreme Court in the case of Discover Bank v. Superior Court. By permitting contracts that exclude class action arbitration, the Court's decision makes it harder for consumers to file class action lawsuits.

If your contract has an arbitration provision like the one in AT&T v. Concepcion, you may be limited to bringing this dispute to arbitration, rather than suing in court.

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Radha Rothrock

Radha Rothrock

Tax Lawyer - Fort Myers, FL
Answered

Start by running a google search to see if anyone already has started a class action lawsuit against ATT for problems similar to yours. If so, it is easier to join a class action than to start one.

Gian M. Fanelli

Gian M. Fanelli

Class Action Attorney - Jersey City, NJ
Answered

One starts a class action lawsuit the same way one starts any other lawsuit: By filing a complaint with a Court.

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