Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Frontier Request to Toss Lawsuit Rejected

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Frontier Request to Toss Lawsuit Rejected

Article excerpt

Frontier Communications customers have every right to file a class-action lawsuit against the company for failing to provide high- speed Internet services it advertised, a judge has ruled. Frontier, West Virginia's largest Internet provider, argued that its customers agreed to "terms and conditions" that require the two sides to settle disputes through arbitration - not in court.

But Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Hoke found that Frontier buried the arbitration clause on its website and on the last pages of its customer billing inserts. What's more, Frontier established the arbitration requirement years after customers who've sued the company subscribed to Frontier's Internet service, Hoke said in his ruling.

Hoke rejected Frontier's request to dismiss the lawsuit and force customers to settle their disputes through arbitration.

"We are finally going to get our day in court, said Michael Sheridan, a Frontier customer in Greenbrier County suing the Internet provider. "We think this lawsuit is the best chance we'll ever have of bringing real Internet to rural West Virginia.

Frontier has asserted it repeatedly informed customers about their contract terms on monthly bills and on the company's website. Frontier said customers suing the company had the opportunity to cancel their Internet service but never did.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling, said Frontier spokesman Andy Malinowski. "In our view, arbitration provides for fair resolution of consumer concerns that is quicker, simpler, and less expensive than lawsuits in court. We plan to appeal.

In his order, Hoke put a six-week halt on all lawsuit-related proceedings, giving Frontier time to file its appeal with the state Supreme Court.

In October 2014, Frontier customers sued the company, alleging Frontier "throttles back its Internet service and provides speeds slower than advertised. Frontier never notified customers about the practice, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that only 12 percent of Frontier's customers in West Virginia receive "true high-speed broadband Internet service. …

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