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AT&T case could bring end to class-action suits for many consumers

Publication Date: 
November 08, 2010
Source: 
Chicago Tribune
Author: 
David Lazarus

A case involving AT&T that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court this week has sweeping ramifications for potentially millions of consumers.

If the court rules for the telecom, any business that issues a contract to customers, such as for credit cards, cell phones or cable TV, could prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits.

This would take away one of the most powerful legal tools available to consumers in such cases, particularly those involving relatively small amounts of money. Class-action suits allow plaintiffs to band together in seeking compensation or redress, giving more heft to their claims.

...

William B. Gould IV, a professor emeritus at Stanford Law School and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board under President Bill Clinton, said the high court was clearly interested in extending the reach of the Federal Arbitration Act.

"This is a very important issue," he said. "And this Supreme Court has indicated a measure of hostility toward class actions."