Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oakland Judge lets Racketeering charges against Verizon go into discovery

In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the
defendant called a police officer a
racketeer, here the plaintiffs are
doing the same to Verizon.
Photo courtesy of James J. Carroll
Oakland Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong released an order on September 3, 2010 denying Verizon's motion to dismiss and allowing a racketeering class action lawsuit to go into discovery.

According to Court documents, Verizon provides local wired home phone service in California (and other states) through local exchange carriers (LECs).  The LECs are responsible for billing and collection of phone charges.  The complaint alleges that third parties are added to Verizon's bills for services unrelated to telephone usage (such as roadside assistance) which are aggregated onto the phone bill in a process known as cramming. Further these "crammed" charges lack sufficient safegaurds to demonstrate that they are legitimate.  As a result, Verizon made charges it knew were fraudulent.  It sent those fraudulent bills in the mail, which invokes mail fraud, which is the predicate illegal act for a RICO action.

Were fraud insufficient, the court found that the plaintiffs also pleaded predicate illegal acts in violations of the California Public Utilities Code and the California Unfair Business Practices Act.

The case is Moore v. Verizon, No. 09-1823 and the opinion is below the jump.

Here is the opinion:
Moore v. Verizon

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