Circuit Remands AT&T Roadside Assistance Case

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The 4th Circuit ruled that the district court has jurisdiction over a class action accusing AT&T of automatically enrolling new wireless customers in roadside assistance as part of a “bundling” practice.

     AT&T filed a motion to remove the class action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, claiming the case exceeded $5 million, a federal jurisdictional threshold. AT&T found that 58,800 customers remained enrolled in the service after their free trial ended, costing them $2.99 per month for jump starts and flat-tire assistance, bringing the damages up to $11 million. The district court demanded a narrowing of the class to those who “unwillingly” kept the service after the free trial, but AT&T was unable to provide an estimate, causing the district court to remand the case to state court.
     Judge Niemeyer found that AT&T had properly defined the class by including all automatically enrolled customers, because the case challenged the initial contract, at which point customers “were not given an option,” but had to “catch” the charge and opt out later. The class made no distinction between those who wanted the service and those who unwillingly retained it, because “all were unaware” at the initial transaction, Niemeyer wrote.
     The appellate judges remanded the case to federal court.

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