Business should not bow to 'frivolous' lawsuits and plaintiff attorneys, class objector says

Steve Korris Sep. 2, 2009, 1:45am



NEWARK, N.J. – Two Sprint cellular telephone customers disagree about Sprint's early termination fee but agree that a pending class action settlement won't do them any good.

Daniel Jakeway of Belding, Mich., and Pamela Orbison of Salisbury, N.C., objected to the settlement in letters that U.S. District Judge Jose Linares received on Aug. 17.

Jakeway called the fee perfectly legal and wrote that private businesses shouldn't bow to the will of plaintiffs' attorneys.

Orbison called the settlement a reward for Sprint and an insult to her.

Last year Linares granted preliminary approval to a settlement that lawyers Richard Burke of St. Louis and Paul Weiss of Chicago reached with Sprint.

Burke's former employer, Brad Lakin of Wood River, moved to disqualify Burke and Weiss.

Lakin claimed he could have obtained a better settlement through a class action that retired Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron certified.

Linares denied disqualification in August, but he has not completed a fairness hearing that started in March.

He plans to resume the hearing on Oct. 21.

Jakeway and Orbison hope he will reject the settlement.

Jakeway wrote:

"Private businesses should not be intimidated into bowing to the will of federal courts and frivolous lawsuits and plaintiffs' attorneys.

"The fact of the matter is subscribers elect not to read their contracts fully before signing.

"Functionally illiterate subscribers then demand that honest literate contract subscribers pay for their foolishness.

"I will pay for this settlement through increased monthly payments though I would never see its benefit.

"Sprint provides cheap, advanced technological handsets through their stringent though perfectly legal contractual obligations.

"Many subscribers attempt to bail out when they see a better deal with a competitor.

"Sprint prepared for these unexpected future disruptions in revenue by creating a perfectly legal, contractual flat rate early termination fee.

"Any federal statute cited to impair this simple power of contract is repugnant to the Constitution."

Orbison wrote:

"Since Sprint purchased Nextel, the service has declined. I want to end service on three phones I have with Sprint but cannot until 12-10-09.

She wrote that she had a two year contract with Nextel and "they offered to change my plan because they knew my plan was not functioning as they promised.

"They had me over a barrel so to speak. I had two choices, pay early term fees or add another two year contract.

"Sprint will not prorate my fees and still wants to charge me $200 per phone for early termination, even though one customer service rep told me they would prorate it, but the prorated fee was $200.

"The way I calculate proration, the fee should be $8.33 per month on remaining months. Roughly $30 per phone or $90 total, not $600.

"This class action is rewarding Sprint.

"$36 toward a $200-$250 termination fee? That is a complete insult.

"I suppose that is all that is left over after the attorneys get their fees.

"I understand why Sprint has these early term fees, but the prices they are saying these phones cost to begin with are inflated.

"I am a victim of these early term fees and this suit does not help me resolve my issues.

"I need either forgiveness of the remaining early term fee or truly prorated fees."

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