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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP 

September, 2006 - Richmond, Virginia

 

 

Hunton & Williams Represents Cingular Wireless in Defeat of Class Certification in National Antitrust Class Action

 

The law firm of Hunton & Williams LLP is pleased to have assisted Cingular Wireless in defeating the recent class certification of Sherman Act section one and two claims. The claims accused AT&T and Cingular Wireless, along with Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile, of dividing the market and maintaining elevated prices through collective action that ties each carrier’s services to the use of a handset programmed to work only on that carrier’s network. While all four of the nation’s major wireless telephone service providers were party to the action, the Hunton & Williams team took the lead on the briefing opposing class certification.

In denying class certification, the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Judge Cote, ruled that the plaintiffs, led by Michael Freeland, had not satisfied their burden of establishing that the wireless companies’ actions satisfied the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which would allow the matter to proceed as a class action. Specifically, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs’ allegations of antitrust injury and coercion on a claim of illegally conditioning the provision of service on the purchase of a handset
programmed to work only on the carrier’s network required individualized proof which could not be demonstrated.

“We are pleased to have assisted Cingular in obtaining a favorable ruling in this matter, thus halting the class action before it began,” said Thomas G. Slater, Jr., lead counsel for Cingular Wireless in the matter and a partner with Hunton & Williams. “This is an important victory, both for our clients and the wireless industry as a whole. It sends a strong message that the courts will vigorously scrutinize purported class actions that would force the parties to expend substantial resources to defend, or succumb to in terrorem settlement demands.”

Additional members of the firm’s legal team assisted in the case, including Richmond, Va.-based partner Douglas M. Garrou and associate John D. Adams, and New York based counsel, Joseph J. Saltarelli.

Hunton & Williams’ Global Competition Practice Group combines high-level government and private litigation experience. Lawyers in the group come from both of the U.S. antitrust enforcement agencies and include a former Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant AG from the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, a former Deputy Director of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, and a former senior litigator and other officials from the FTC. The group includes seasoned private litigators with experience in national class actions and other antitrust litigation. Hunton & Williams’ competition practice counts several former U.S. Supreme Court clerks among its associates. Working from offices in the United States and abroad, the group serves domestic and international companies in antitrust litigation, merger review, intellectual property matters, consumer protection and privacy, and criminal antitrust defense and related price-fixing litigation.


 

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