CenturyLink is a massive broadband ISP, which has been sued by the Federal Trade Commission over their illegal practice of deceiving customers into paying for unlimited broadband when in fact they were not even connected to the internet. The CenturyLink Class Action Lawsuit is an attempt by class action consumers to hold CenturyLink accountable for not only their false advertising, but also their attempt to hide their bad practices under the guise of being a national high speed internet provider. A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit filed by individuals who have suffered a loss or damage as the result of another person or entity’s negligence. In this case, the FTC decided that because CenturyLink was trying to use a legal loophole to avoid paying the taxes that are owed for unlimited broadband connections, and then telling their customers that the company was bankrupt and would no longer be in business, that they had to do a class action lawsuit.
CenturyLink Class Action Lawsuit
CenturyLink used a legal loophole to escape paying taxes on their unlimited connections by changing their definition of broadband from an intranet to an extra internet connection which was legal according to the law but nevertheless not included in their definition of broadband. By doing this they were able to avoid paying taxes on this service to the government and therefore their services were suddenly available without any tariffs or taxes. The class action lawsuit involved some clients who were then misdiagnosed by a chiropractor and sent into surgery without clearly explaining the condition that they were suffering from. This resulted in a bill for more than five thousand dollars that was never paid. The court found that CenturyLink’s billing practices were so suspect that they required a retraction and an admission of liability.
The CenturyLink class action lawsuits were resolved in the Federal Court in Washington, D.C.
In the resolution the court found that CenturyLink engaged in a “systematic and deceptive advertising campaign” by not clearly disclosing the conditions of the services they provided and by hiding those conditions from their customers. The court found that CenturyLink consistently violated several FTC advertising laws and ruled that seven class members had suffered injury as a result of this conduct. The class members had been mislead into paying an additional fee for internet services when they did not need them and did not receive such services from CenturyLink. The Court also found that there had been a breach of the clients’ right to payment due to CenturyLink’s refusal to verify their computer speeds and their netblock settings.
CenturyLink’s attorneys had opposed the proposed class action lawsuit, arguing that the amended definition of broadband was intended to include cell phones.
They claimed that the amended definition of broadband was only applicable to cell phones, and not to computers and other devices. However, CenturyLink’s counsel had been unable to provide evidence that this was not intended. The FCC had also opposed the proposed class action lawsuit, arguing that the definition of broadband in the Order was intended to apply to all classes of services not excepted from regulation under the order. The FCC also claimed that the definition of broadband under the Order was drafted in a way that meant that it was not necessary to define broadband to include cable internet and other services not included in the original definition of broadband.
CenturyLink had also opposed the class action lawsuit on the basis that the FCC had exceeded its jurisdiction under the Telecommunications Act and had abused the regulatory process by adopting an interim rule without going through the statutory procedure.
However, the Court found that despite the foregoing, the District Court was within its discretion to allow the case to proceed because CenturyLink’s proposed class-action lawsuit would cause unnecessary confusion. Accordingly, the Court declined the defendants’ motion to dismiss. CenturyLink did not object to the court’s finding that the mandatory monthly fee for unmetered, wireless access was preemptive and unjustifiable.
However, the company did object to the District Court’s reliance on industry experts to determine the extent to which CenturyLink was unreasonably limiting its subscribers’ freedom of choice in connection to their wireless broadband connections. The company argued that the majority of the costs of the plaintiffs would recover in defense and maintenance fees were legally improper and therefore did not support the inference that the majority of the costs resulted from CenturyLink’s wrongful intent to limit the freedom of choice of its subscribers.
The case will be decided on a class-action basis, and there are no guarantees of a favorable outcome.
If the lawsuit proceeds to trial, the case could be resolved in favor of the plaintiffs, but the likelihood of such a result is highly unlikely. Also, any damages awarded in a courtroom would likely be significantly less than the potential profits of a successful class-action suit. In sum, if you or someone you know has been wronged by a CenturyLink customer service incident, you may wish to contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in representing consumers who have been harmed by defective products.