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HOW EMBARASSING: Kim Starling Obtains Court Order Preventing AT&T From Moving Forward with Arbitration Against Her in TCPA Class Action and its Just the Saddest Thing
Monday, April 15, 2024

Its not very often you see a company like AT&T get woodshedded, but when it happens it is really something incredible to behold.

The telecom giant was just ordered by a court NOT to proceed with an arbitration against repeat TCPA litigator Kim Starling, and its just flat embarrassing for AT&T.

In Starling v. AT&T, et al. 2024 WL 1258501 (D. Mass. March 25, 2024) AT&T tried to enforce an arbitration agreement signed by Starling’s sister (and also longtime TCPA litigator) Kelly Pinn. It did not go well. At all.

Per the Court’s order, Pinn, established an account with AT&T for internet services on September 17, 2019. The Terms of Service Agreement contained a provision requiring Pinn and AT&T “to arbitrate all disputes and claims between [Pinn] and AT&T.”

On October 26, 2020, the cellphone number belonging to Starling was entered as an alternate contact number for Pinn’s account.

An updated arbitration agreement defined “you” –the party bound to arbitrate claims with AT&T–to include “all authorized or unauthorized users or beneficiaries of AT&T’s Services or products under past, present, or future Agreements between you and AT&T.”

Plaintiff’s sister later cancelled her account with AT&T and then Plaintiff received calls from OnProcess on behalf of AT&T, seeking return of equipment.

AT&T moved to compel Starling’s claim to arbitration despite the fact that only Pinn had a contractual relationship with it. In AT&T’s view, however, Starling “knowingly exploited the benefits of Pinn’s contract with AT&T by using the contract ‘to generate an illegitimate TCPA claim against AT&T.'”


If the facts set forth by the court are true, Starling didn’t generate anything. She received calls on her phone asking her to return equipment that belonged to her sister. And Starling didn’t provide the number–her sister did.

Now look, far be it from me to side with a repeat litigator like Starling, but I am absolutely confused how AT&T thought they could shoehorn an arbitration out of these facts. Makes no sense.

The Court was equally confused it seems: “Her TCPA claim is not a claim under Pinn’s contract with AT&T for internet service. Rather, as described, it is an independent cause of action alleging a violation of a federal statute that protects consumers from receiving unsolicited prerecorded calls without their consent… The “core” of the TCPA claim in this case stems from the automated phone calls to Starling’s phone, not from Pinn’s contract with AT&T. ”


So AT&T’s motion to compel arbitration is denied–but things get even weirder.

Apparently AT&T jumped the gun and initiated an arbitration proceeding on its own against Starling. Starling asked the court to prevent the arbitration from moving forward.. AND IT DID!

Starling argued she would be irreparably harmed if she had to defend herself in an arbitration she never agreed to. Now technically the arbitrator should have declined to exercise jurisdiction here regardless of what the Court did or didn’t do, but the district court jumped in AND ISSUED AN ORDER BANNING THE ARBITRATION FROM CONTINUING.

Holy smokes.

I have to say–in my 20 long years of practicing law I have never seen this before. Just remarkable.

So AT&T is stuck in the class action and has been banned from proceeding with the arbitration it initiated against Starling.

Just nuts.

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