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Schnall v. AT&T Wireless Services, Inc.

Supreme Court of Washington
225 P.3d 929 (Wash. 2010) (en banc)


Martin Schnall, a New Jersey resident, Nathan Riensche, a Washington resident, and others (Schnall) (plaintiffs) were customers of AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. (AT&T) (defendant). Schnall filed a class action in Washington state court against AT&T. Schnall alleged that AT&T misled customers nationwide by including a monthly charge that was not included in advertised monthly rates and not clearly described in billing statements. The charge was a fee assessed against AT&T by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which AT&T lawfully passed down to customers. Schnall asserted contract claims and violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Schnall sought certification of a nationwide class of all improperly billed AT&T customers. The trial court denied certification of the class, concluding that individual questions predominated over common questions. Additionally, the trial court held that the choice-of-law clause in each customer’s service contract required that the law of the state where the customer resided govern any dispute. Schnall appealed. The court of appeals reversed and certified the class. The Supreme Court of Washington granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Madsen, C.J.)

Dissent (Sanders, J.)

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