Bloomberg reports that U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield in New York today ruled that a lawsuit against Apple and T-Mobile must be heard in open court instead of being decided behind closed doors using arbitration. T-Mobile argued that its terms and conditions call for consumer disputes to be heard privately via arbitration. Judge Schofield rejected T-Mobile's argument and also shot down Apple's request to force arbitration on the plaintiffs because "Apple is not a party to the T-Mobile agreement, and Apple has not shown” that it can enforce it."
Most companies favor arbitration when it comes to customer disputes since the process is quicker, the companies can help select the judges, there is a limited right to appeal, and the suits are heard individually; unlike class-action cases, the plaintiffs cannot share expenses making it more expensive for them to instigate legal action against companies. The case in question involves iPhone users who had their handsets running on T-Mobile. The carrier had given these subscribers recycled phone numbers and in combination with a flaw on the particular iPhone models, it allowed third parties to access users' communications without permission. In the complaint, plaintiffs argued that both Apple and T-Mobile promised that iMessage and FaceTime messages were secure.
Judge Schofield said that she will make a final ruling on one plaintiff's against T-Mobile after questions about the customers arbitration agreement with the nation's second largest carrier are answered. She also shot down Apple's request to have another consumer's case moved into arbitration. For you legal eagles, the case is Ohanian v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05162, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).