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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Thursday, February 2, 2006

PA Judge Refuses to Enforce Class Action Preclusion Clauses

According to the Legal Intelligencer, a Philadelphia judge recently held that class action preclusion clauses in contracts of adhesion are "unconscionable and unenforceable."  The decision in Thibodeau v. Comcast addressed two consolidated cases, one brought by a proposed class "who rented cable boxes and remotes from Comcast, allegedly unaware until they did so that those items were not needed in order to receive basic cable." The other case involved "AT&T cell phone customers who claim they did not know until they signed up for service that they could not use their phones on non-AT&T networks."  As with most consumer class actions, each of the individual plaintiff's monetary claims is rather small.  The judge held that the mandatory clauses have the effect of "immuniz[ing] large corporations from liability by allowing them to preclude all class action litigation."  The article reports that the decision (of which I could not yet seem to find a copy) begins with a prefatory quote from French novelist Anatole France:

The law in its majesty prohibits rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges.

[Meredith R. Miller]

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