Judge awards victim of AT&T data throttling $850

In the latest chapter of the AT&T unlimited data throttling debacle, a small claims court judge in California has awarded an AT&T iPhone user $850 in damages due to AT&T significantly slowing the user's data speeds to "manage usage on it's network". The unidentified user, who was grandfathered in to the unlimited data plan, claimed to be throttled each billing cycle at approximately 1.5 GB to 2 GB of data. Reuters reports:

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley. Spaccarelli filed a small claims case against AT&T last month, arguing the communications giant unfairly slows speeds on his iPhone 4's unlimited data plan. Nadel's ruling could pave the way for others to follow suit. AT&T has some 17 million customers with "unlimited data" plans that can be subject to throttling, representing just under half of the company's smartphone users.

AT&T does have the option to appeal the courts decision but it is not yet known if they will choose to do so. The company's main argument in the case was that they have the right to modify or cancel customers' contracts if their data usage negatively affects their network. What makes this judgement interesting is the fact that it has the possibility to open up quite a few additional small claims lawsuits against AT&T.

That means thousands —and possibly hundreds of thousands— of people who feel abused by AT&T's policy could seek to challenge the company, one by one, in arbitration or small claims court. The customer contract specifies that those who win an award from the company in arbitration will get at least $10,000. Spaccarelli picked the same amount for his claim. Judge Nadel instead awarded him $85 for each of the 10 months left on his contract.

We've said it before, and we will say it again - AT&T needs to stop this data throttling. Some of their most loyal customers are the ones being inconvenienced by their actions and it's just not right. Perhaps this lawsuit will open some eyes to help get this accomplished. Before it goes class-action.

Source: Reuters

Jeremy

Community editor. Tech enthusiast. All-around geek.

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There are 19 comments. Add yours.

Anthony says:

Take that one, AT&T. Here is the change.org petition for this matter. Please, get the word out, to get as many people as possible to sign it.http://www.change.org/petitions/att-data-throttle#

David says:

When AT&T changed the terms of their "Unlimited" data plan, they forfeited the right to continue calling it "unlimited".  Simple as that.
STOP AT&T's massive fraud!  Make some noise: http://is.gd/YidalY

jessedholm says:

fist pump Excellent! ATT better check themselves!

Josh Smiley says:

Word!!! Before ya reck ya-self!

big9erfan says:

The best part about this ( other than the fact that AT&T had the decision go against them ) is the fact that it was done in Simi Valley, just a few miles from where I live. Glad to see some good things still happen here in CA.

meh says:

All you need to do is prove that your being throttled for under 2GBs with unlimited and people paying for 2GB are not being
throttled. Shouldn't be too hard too show AT$T who's boss. They must still be crying over the failed T-Mo merger lol.

sfwrtr says:

The problem with AT&T is that they are throttling only unlimited users, not just the data hogs, and basing it on all users including the 300MB/month plan users. AT&T should just bite the PR bullet and end the unlimited plan. The grandfathering BS is not a loyalty perk if it is crippled.

sherlock says:

Yeah! Unlimited means unlimited aka not limited!

yo mama said says:

or perhaps you mean "um-limited" lol

Larry says:

Now we need to sue for them taking away unlimited plans from loyal customers. When they accuse us of abusing it. Been with AT&T for 10 no contract with an unlimited data. Updated to iPhone 4s. Oh now I loose unlimited plan due to them stating I teathered. No proof and refuses to discus 2 years can't come fast enough.

SJ says:

Just deserves for at&t
Also, if you would do some editing, you'll see the "unidentified" litigant was
Named in the article excerpt. Wake up.

John says:

Now some class action attorney is going to get a $billion, I'm going to get a 50¢ coupon good on any $500 purchase, my rates are going to go up $5 a month, and if I find myself needing to use a ton of data, my unlimited plan will be gone. Oh happy day. ATT is in the wrong though. They enticed the guy to re-up with the unlimited data carrot. That doesn't pass the sniff test. Is there no limit to corporate stupidity?

BillMcNeal says:

Fwiw, according to an article, this can't be pursued as a class action suit. So don't worry about that

Freiteez says:

Crazy. I live right by Simi

BillMcNeal says:

According to an ap article in my local paper today, this guy was confirmed tethering by att, and still won the judgement. It will be interesting to see if this is upheld in the appeal.
Link: http://m.delawareonline.com/business/article?a=2012120224062&f=1191&ref=...

kirbini says:

If AT&T changes the terms of your contract for any reason, such as dropping you from your previous plan to a tiered plan, then you are free to cancel your contract with no termination fees! That's right. Let them put you on a tiered plan. Then walk over to Sprint, sign up for their unlimited plan with it's new phone and sell you old phone on eBay for a cool $600.
Seriously, they cancel your contract you are free to walk. no fee.

kaze258 says:

i got that message and went to sprint the next day, there such &**&^%*$%!!!!