SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Cricket Wireless will go to trial on claims it deceptively lured customers into buying phones with lousy 4G service — but those customers must be prepared to “stand and deliver” on those claims in court.
In November 2019, a group of Cricket customers from multiple states sued the wireless carrier claiming it charged them premium prices for false promises of “unlimited 4G/LTE.”
The proposed class, led by Jermaine Thomas, Tammie Barnes, Jermaine Miller and Jamie Postpichal, claims they were enticed by a national ad campaign that ran from 2012 to 2014, offering better internet access, faster download speeds, and “no contract” wireless service.
It wasn’t the first time Cricket faced a lawsuit over shoddy 4G/LTE coverage. In 2015, Flor Barraza brought the same claims on behalf of a class of California customers. Cricket immediately sought to force Barraza into arbitration, but its refusal to comply with court orders to turn over documents related to its customer agreements doomed the case. The parties voluntary dismissed the lawsuit in December 2015.
The allegations resurfaced in Septemer 2016 in Missouri with a class action led by Jermaine Thomas and Jamie Postpichal, but they dropped their case. They refiled the case on Nov. 4, 2019, a day after the tolling agreement expired.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the case will go to trial but said the plaintiffs will need to get over the jurisdictional hurdle at trial by proving Cricket’s marketing and business decisions were made at its California offices prior to a 2014 merger with AT&T.
Cricket, which was a subsidiary of Leap Wireless, relocated to Atlanta after AT&T acquired Leap. But the plaintiffs allege that Leap maintains its headquarters in San Diego “on information and belief.”
Alsup noted Cricket’s mysterious and “stalwart refusal” to provide any jurisdictional evidence refuting these claims.
“If evidence exists refuting jurisdiction, Cricket decided against deploying it,” Alsup said, adding that “rather than allow this action to stall any longer” he will forge ahead with the trial based on the plaintiffs’ unchallenged allegations and Cricket’s own declarations that its principal officers were in San Diego before 2014.
But he cautioned, “This order is not a win for plaintiffs. Plaintiffs still bear the burden at trial of proving personal jurisdiction.”
Attorneys for both sides did not respond to emails seeking comment Tuesday.