• On January 19, 2011, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument in FCC v. AT&T, which arises out of AT&T’s claim that the FCC could withhold documents otherwise responsive to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the ground that AT&T qualifies for FOIA’s “personal privacy” exemption. The FCC disagreed with that interpretation, but the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the corporate entity could qualify for the exemption. AT&T argued that it is a “person” within the meaning of FOIA, and thus has “personal privacy” interests that are protected under the Act. Liberal and conservative justices alike appeared to be skeptical of AT&T’s position. Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, noted that he had “come up with other examples where the adjective was very different from the root noun,” including “craft and crafty” and “squirrel and squirrelly.” When it was mentioned that AT&T was the first to press this argument since the law was passed nearly 40 years ago, Justice Breyer observed, “well, one reason might be that this has really never been a problem because all the legitimate ... organizations that have interests in privacy are actually taken care of by the other 17 exemptions” provided in FOIA. FCC v. AT&T, Inc., No. 09-1279.
  • On January 12, 2011, the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma denied a motion to dismiss a putative consumer class action alleging that AT&T Mobility and Radio Shack defrauded consumers by not adequately warning them about the charges they would incur if they exceeded the $60/5GB wireless Internet plans sold with laptops. The lead plaintiff claims her overage ran “into the thousands of dollars” when she went over the prescribed limit, noting that the five gigabytes paid for each month cost $12 each, but that the overage price skyrocketed to over $500 per gigabyte. “Without intimating any view of the merits of plaintiff’s claim, the court concludes that plaintiff’s pleading provides defendants with fair notice of her fraud claim and the factual basis on which it depends,” the court concluded. Parks v. AT&T Mobility LLC, No. 09-cv-212 (W.D. Okla.).