AT&T's DirecTV must face a lawsuit alleging the company violated a consumer protection law by making robocalls to a consumer's cell phone, a federal appellate court ruled Wednesday.
In a 2-1 decision upholding a trial judge's order, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected AT&T's argument that the case belonged in arbitration.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Jeremy Revitch, who alleged in a 2018 class-action complaint that DirecTV violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using an autodialer to make unsolicited marketing calls to his mobile phone.
The telecom contended that Revitch couldn't proceed in court because he was an AT&T subscriber, and AT&T's terms of service require arbitration of disputes involving itself as well as any affiliates.
But a divided panel of the 9th Circuit ruled that the suit wasn't covered by AT&T's arbitration requirement, because Revitch agreed to AT&Ts terms of service in 2011 -- four years before AT&T acquired DirecTV.
“Because it was not and is not now a party to the wireless services agreement between Revitch and AT&T Mobility, DirecTV may not invoke the agreement to compel arbitration,” Circuit Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote in an opinion joined by Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown.
Circuit Judge Mark J. Bennett dissented, writing that DirecTV should be able to require arbitration because it is currently an AT&T affiliate.
A company spokesperson says it's reviewing the decision and "considering next steps."
“We comply with the law, including the TCPA, and we strongly dispute the underlying claims in the suit,” the spokesperson added.