Truck driver beats AT&T in court, gets $850 for throttled data pain


It is not often that a good ol’ citizen beats a big company in court. But being an angry, unemployed truck driver may very well do the trick. Matt Spacarelli was given $850 because his data had been throttled by AT&T, despite the fact that his contract agreement stated he was allowed unlimited downloading.

Spacarelli was not aiming low, though. He was asking for $10,000. This was declined by the judge, who instead decided to give him $85 per month, out of 10. But things are not as simple, and Matt may not bee seeing his money anytime soon (if at all).

AT&T has already stated that it will appeal the ruling. This means that the customer can’t collect his cash until the appeal is finalized. A judge from the same court will be able to listen to each side’s version of the story, but this time with lawyers.

This is where Ma Bell is ahead of the curve. A company like AT&T has lawyers to throw away, and Spacarelli may be in a bit of a disadvantage. Regardless, this is a small claims court in Simi Valley, CA. And the hearing is based on the same simple procedures. So our friend Matt is likely to still win.

If this happens, AT&T could also take things to the next level and ask for a hearing at a higher-level court. Such would really seem a bit extreme for a company like AT&T, though. We are sure the expenses of continuing this ordeal are much higher than $850.

But don’t go calling your lawyer just yet. As it seems like not everyone will be able to go and sue AT&T for this. Apparently, small claim courts can only create a class action suit, in which every customer can sue at once. In which case, it is not possible. AT&T has prohibited such actions, as per their customer contract.

Well isn’t that tricky, AT&T? We suppose Matt is the only one cashing in on this one. How many of you, AT&T folks, are getting throttled?

[Source: Yahoo Via: Paid Content]

Edgar Cervantes

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  1.  Here’s a source link for the story –

    Don’t know what being a truck driver has to do with it, but ok, LoL.

    The judge found that the the throttling clause was unfairly buried in his contract, and that he ought not be getting charged more than those with tiered plans, and the settlement was set based on the high per GB usage charge being levied.

    The plaintiff wasn’t merely greedy, seeking $10k, as explained in the article.

  2. Really, this article is poor journalism. No link to sources? No understanding of the ramifications of AT&T losing this case? It would be good for you all to skip the water cooler talk posts and really put some thought and helpful info into these articles. I’m not hating, just hoping.

    1. And the writing!

      Apparently, small claim courts can only create a class action suit, in which every customer can sue at once. In which case, it is not possible.

      The guy in question just did this without being part of a class action suit. Maybe Cervantes meant that small claims courts cannot be part of class action suits.

  3. Good for him.

  4. Small claims cannot handle class action suits. It’s different for each entity, but they all have monetary limits on what you can sue for. The court in Vegas requires you to send out a statement/request to comply to the party you are seeking damages from. If there is no reply, you win. If it is contested, then a mediation meeting is set. If the opposition fails to attend, you win. If there is no agreement reached, they then set a hearing date.

    I would venture to believe that if enough people followed suit and filled, it wouldn’t be financially feasible to send lawyers out on multiple trips to contest these cases, that they will probably end up losing in the end (even if it is only $850). It might force at&t to change policy. The problem lies in getting people to do the work themselves, vs having to just sign up for a class action.

  5. realistically anyone could still sue…you are thinking in a small scale of things.  If att would lose this case I don’t see a judge saying to someone else, no you cant sue this multi billion dollar company for giving you poor service because they are too cheap to upgrade their system.

  6. A lawyer will cost AT&T far more than $850…

    I can’t stand anything about you AT&T

  7. Wasn’t this posted here already? Oh yeah, Raveesh posted it over the weekend.

  8. The simple fact is that this story getting any publicity is a big win for AT&T customers. Lawsuit publicity like this often generates the legal beast that even AT&T fears:


    If only I were licensed in California…

  9. Okay AT&T is going to spend the money this 850 case will give the green light to other customers to sue. Remember the case of a Phandroid writer using the app My Tracks to get out of a ticket. As the judge didn’t come out and say that’s the reason why the ticket was dismissed. Cause once a ruling was made that GPS data is as our more reliable data. That would cause a uproar. How many people would go out by a phone it be Android, Windows, or Apple get a app similar. Then record there travels so just in case they get pulled over we have the upper hand. It’s been proven if cops don’t know how to use a radar gun properly could result in you getting a speeding ticket when in fact you are not speeding at all. what I’m getting at once a case sets a fact that said company was wrong others can use that said court case in there case. With this case it’s bigger then people think if upheld then AT&T be out more then 850 bucks. Cause that leaves many customers a legal case and ground to sue or ATT will have to stop there illegal practice add far as I see there doing to not only the unlimited but to those that are tiered and get throttled.

    1.  I couldn’t understand what you were saying with all the grammatical and spelling errors screaming at me.

  10. I got throttled at 2 gigs last month. Its BS! If they decide to throttle unlimited users it should be a gig after their biggest data plan. Plan & simple.

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