Supreme Court rules against Alltel in cell phone fee case | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Supreme Court rules against Alltel in cell phone fee case

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 10:12 AM

A divided Arkansas Supreme Court came down narrowly on the side of plaintiffs today in an interim proceeding in a class action lawsuit over termination fees for Alltel cell phone customers.

A class action was certified in Saline County (by the Supreme Court over a contrary circuit court ruling) over Alltel's early termination fee. After that class action was certified, Alltel sought to have the class exclude people who'd signed an arbitration agreement in their contracts after 2004. The plaintiff objected because Alltel had not raised that issue previously. The circuit agreed that the group shouldn't be excluded because there was no "mutuality" in the arbitration provision. Alltel could compel arbitration, but it also could seek help in court. The Supreme Court agreed:.

Succinctly put, Alltel provided itself with an "out" to the required arbitration

It affirmed the class action. The vote was 4-3, with Justices Courtney Goodson, Karen Baker and Cliff Hoofman dissenting.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce had intervened in the case, with an amicus brief arguing, among others, the benefits of arbitration in holding down product costs. It said the case presented the state Supreme Court with an opportunity to "vindicate the national policy in favor of arbitration."

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