AT&T Loses Demurrer to Unfair Competition Case

     (CN) – A California appeals court revived a nearly 9-year-old dispute over allegedly misrepresented wireless packages on Tuesday, saying consumers may have a case under unfair competition law.
     The complaint, which was initially filed against Cingular Wireless and Pacific Bell Mobile Services in December 2003, had already gone through five iterations before the San Mateo County Superior Court sustained the telecoms’ demurrer without leave to amend.
     But Division Five of California’s 1st District Court of Appeal said Tuesday that the class may be able to state a claim under unfair competition law against the defendant entities, which are now known as AT&T Mobility.
     “Regardless of whether Plaintiffs are able to pursue claims for individual damages or class restitution, the adequacy of defendants’ disclosures of the contested billing practice, and whether at least some members of the public are likely to be deceived are not issues that can be resolved as a matter of law on demurrer, even with the matter judicially noticed,” Justice Terence Bruiniers wrote for a three-member panel.
     Noting that there is no dispute at this juncture over class treatment, the court declined to address that issue.
     The complaint challenges how AT&T Mobility advertised its billing practices for airtime in full minute increments, rounding up in the instance of partial minute use.
     Three of the claims in the fifth amended complaint involve unfair competition law, alleging unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices.

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